Mission is not to be ashamed to call them brothers and sisters
By using a poetic and mythical language, God’s Word reveals to us the wonderful truths about the human person – man and woman – the family and cosmos. The first truth is that Adam did not create himself: It was God who created him (I reading). The word Adam, in this case, means both man and woman. This Adam (the man and the woman) lives in loneliness to which God finds a remedy: “It is not good that man should be alone: I will make him a helper suitable for him” (v. 18). If we keep to the biblical text, one could even say that not even God is enough to fill Adam’s loneliness. For his historical existence, Adam is also in need of things, animals, trees… which the Creator provides for him in abundance in the beauty of the universe, giving him even the power to give a name to all living being, that is the power to keep them under his control (v. 19). On the logic of biblical theology, such power of control on things created by God corresponds, obviously, to the human being in its completeness as man and woman, with the same dignity.
God, who called Adam to life, now calls him to communion, to a life of encounters and relationships which take the human person to his/her fullness and maturity. Adam, indeed, is not happy with his power over things: he looks for a suitable helper for him (v. 20), in complete otherness and equality. God himself presents to him such a helper, the woman, Eve, to whom he feels that he cannot give her a name , that is of having power over her, because he recognises her as equal to him, part of him: “bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh” (v. 23). They are both equal in dignity, called to full communion of life. The original plan of the Creator was wonderful but the human sin has come to ruin the equilibrium of the relationships among equals: the desire of control of one partner over the other has substituted the respect for the other, with its well-known and painful consequences. Jesus (Gospel), after reproaching his people for their “hardness of heart” (v. 5), tried to take them back to the original plan of God, but, unfortunately, with little success in his own time as well in our own time.
The Second Vatican Council has words which cast a light on the dignity of marriage and family: “The intimate partnership of married life and love has been established by the Creator and qualified by His laws, and is rooted in the conjugal covenant of irrevocable personal consent. Hence by that human act whereby spouses mutually bestow and accept each other a relationship arises which by divine will and in the eyes of society too is a lasting one. For the good of the spouses and their off-springs as well as of society, the existence of the sacred bond no longer depends on human decisions alone. For, God Himself is the author of matrimony, endowed as it is with various benefits and purposes. All of these have a very decisive bearing on the continuation of the human race, on the personal development and eternal destiny of the individual members of a family, and on the dignity, stability, peace and prosperity of the family itself and of human society as a whole” (Gaudium et Spes, 48). For this reason the prayer of the Church becomes more insistent, “so that man and woman may form one single life, the beginning of a free and necessary harmony which is achieved in love” (prayer). (*)
The shared life of man and woman in marriage is not merely in view of the good of the couple, but it has a missionary influence on the children and the social and ecclesial milieu. After speaking about the family, Jesus turns immediately to the children and, generally speaking, to the weak and the poor, giving them affection, protection, respect and blessing (v. 13-16). Jesus has fully entered in the fabric and meanders of history of humankind, sympathising with it, sharing its origin and suffering. So much so that the author of the letter to the Hebrews (II reading), in moving words affirms that Christ “for this reason is not ashamed to call them brothers” (v. 11). Christ does not exclude anyone from this fraternal relationship, even the most blameworthy and distant person. He is always the most radical model for all missionaries. He is an invitation to all in this missionary month.
The Pope’s words
(*) “The goal of the Church's mission is to illumine all peoples with the light of the Gospel as they journey through history towards God, so that in Him they may reach their full potential and fulfilment. We should have a longing and a passion to illumine all peoples with the light of Christ that shines on the face of the Church, so that all may be gathered into the one human family, under God's loving fatherhood”.
Message for World Mission Sunday 2009
In the missionaries’ footsteps
- 4/10: St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), in love with Christ’s poverty, founder of the Franciscan Family, missionary among the Muslims; he sent to various lands groups of friars to evangelise.
- 4/10: Bl. Frances Xavier Seelos (1819-1867), German Redemptorist priest, missionary in various regions of the USA, who died of yellow fever in New Orleans, Louisiana.
- 5/10: SS. Froilano and Attilano, Spanish bishops in the 10th Century, who left their hermits’ life to dedicate themselves to the evangelisation of the regions that had been liberated from the domination of the Muslim Arabs.
- 5/10: St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), Polish religious, favoured by special revelations on “Divine Mercy”, a devotion that spread quickly all over the world.
- 5/10: Annalena Tonelli (1943-2003), Italian lay missionary in Kenya and Somalia for thirty years, killed at Borama (Somalia) by an unknown person. Her words: “I have chosen radical poverty” and “One day the good shall triumph”.
- 6/10: St. Bruno (Germany 1030-1101 Italy), theology professor, then a hermit, founder of the ‘Grande Chartreuse’ (Grenoble), promoter of monastic, solitary and hermit’s life.
- 6/10: Bl. Mary Rose (Eulalia) Durocher (1811-1849, Canadian from Quebec, foundress.
- 7/10: Our Lady of the Rosary: the popular prayer suitable for reflecting on the mysteries of the life of Christ and of Mary, embracing the joys, hopes and missionary issues of the entire world.
- 8/10: St. John Calabria (1873-1954), priest from Verona, founder of two Institutes of Divine Providence for the young, the poor and the sick.
- 9/10: St. John Leonardi (1541-1609), founder of the Regular Clergy of the Mother of God. Together with the Spanish prelate G. B. Vives, founded in Rome a school for future missionaries ad gentes, forerunner of the College of Propaganda Fide (1627).
- 9/10: S. Louis Bertrán (1526-1581), Spanish Dominican priest, missionary in Colombia, where he evangelised the native people and defended them against their oppressors.
- 10/10: St. Daniel Comboni (1831-1881), first Bishop and Apostolic Vicar of Central Africa; conceived a Plan “to save Africa through the Africans” and founded two missionary Institutes. He died in Khartoum (Sudan) at the age of 50.
Compiled by Fr. Romeo Ballan, MCCJ - Comboni Missionaries (Verona)
Translated by Fr. Henry Redaelli, MCCJ
Website: www.euntes.net “The Word for Mission”