23 September 2009 Wednesday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time
Ezra 9, 5-9; Tobit 13; Luke 9, 1-6
When Jesus chose the Twelve apostles, He decided to share His mission with them. In the Gospel today, Jesus sends them to do what He does: to preach and proclaim the Kingdom of God and heal people of their maladies. To care for the body and the soul. It is therefore important that the care for both the body and soul becomes part of the concern of evangelization.
The necessity of caring for the body is important in preaching the Gospel. It is difficult to teach when the stomach is empty. Many people say that the way to a person’s heart is through the stomach, it is also the same for a good vocation, a vibrant community life and for catechism. I was assigned as Campus Minister of Xavier University High School in Cagayan de Oro City. Students who were members of religious organizations went to a public elementary school to teach catechism and tutor children in Math, Science and English. We were given permission by the school authorities to teach after school. At first, the children were distracted when we began our classes, eventually many of them would make their way home. We realized they were already hungry by the time we started the lessons. So, we decided to provide some food for both the student tutors and the children. We got the food from the daily offerings of classes who sponsored school masses. In lieu of flowers and fruits, we requested food items and beverages. Since then, the students were eager to go to the apostolate area and the kids regularly attended the classes.
Second, the disciples were to preach the Kingdom of God. In our world today, to preach the Kingdom of God can be done through different means and ways: from oral tradition to print to television and now to cyber-evangelization. The internet is now a new way of preaching the Gospel.
Many people think that the problem is the how in preaching that homilies are sometimes reduced to entertainment. Many priest can make the congregation laugh, but upon listening intently, there is much more to be desired like substance. But I think content is what people are looking for. The 2nd Plenary Council of the Philippines affirmed that though our faith is genuine, it failed to be a ‘leaven of transformation’ in Philippine Society. Many Filipino Catholics are ignorant of the doctrines of the faith. If the people kept the faith it was largely because of popular beliefs and practices like the rosary, processions, novenas, fiestas etc. But many Filipinos are not able to give an account of what they believe (PCP II, Position Paper on Religious Concerns) or the faith does not lead them to a commitment and a conviction (Fr. Adolfo Nicolas SJ, Talk on Education, Ateneo de Manila University). Faith has an intellectual component. Faith includes a belief in the teachings of Christ. These teachings are found both in Scripture and the living Tradition of the Church.
Finally Luke stresses the importance of spreading the Gospel elsewhere. This is the Lucan theme of universality: the Gospel for all peoples. Our mission as Christians is not just to enrich those who are already within the faith, but to continually reach out to others. To me, if people are in the internet, then I believe the Church should go there. Many parents today ask me how to raise the internet generation. So this is our mission now: how to reach out to the people who spend most of their time, not in the classroom, but in the chatroom. Today, we affirm that the most important thing is dialogue: understanding people of different faith traditions or in this case understanding a different culture. This I believe is the reason why Jesus asked his disciples to trust in the Lord: their stark provisions and dependence on God’s providence helps them keep an open mind and heart. They may have to leave their “way of doing things” and adapt to another culture. And therefore make use of their cultural expressions in the transmission and assimilation of their faith.