Our Lady of the Missions
Fr Fachtna O'Driscoll preached at the 2nd night of the 2012 Novena in honour of Our Lady. Here are some of the points Fr O'Driscoll made during his homily.
“The message of Christ’s Ascension”, writes Pope Benedict XVI, “expresses our belief that in Christ the humanity that we all share has entered into the inner life of God in a new and hitherto unheard of way. It means that man has found an everlasting place in God.”
Resurrection - Ascension - Pentecost: three parts of the one dynamic.
And all part of the dynamic life of the Trinity.
God the Father resurrects the Son; the Son returns to the Father after forty days of revealing his glorious self to the Our Lady and the disciples; and the Father and the Son both send and come in the person of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
It is through the power of the Spirit that the Church is mandated and empowered to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.
There is a very missionary theme running through our readings this evening. Our Acts reading tells us Jesus’ reply to his disciples: “... you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.”
Of course we know that Our Lady was with the disciples as they crouched frightened in the upper room when suddenly the Holy Spirit invaded their lives. So Mary has an essential role in the mission of the Church.
That is why we focus tonight - on this second night of our novena - on Our Lady of the Mission.
The powerful prayer of St Paul to the Ephesians [2nd reading] is spoken to the Church throughout all time. It is as valid for us today as it was for the first disciples. Mary lived that prayer in her own lifetime. Her eyes were enlightened so that she could see the hope God held out for her and for the whole of humanity. In this way she is able to strengthen and encourage disciples and missionaries of all time.
The gospel instructs us to “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.” We go out under the protection of Mary. We will pray later during the novena prayers the beautiful Memorare, “... anyone who fled to thy protection or sought thy intercession” was never left unaided.
Mary was a true missionary through:
- Her Trust in God despite all the signs to the contrary – ‘Be it done to me according to your word’ – she believed the promise made to her: ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you’
- Visitation to Elizabeth: a true missionary in bringing the Good News to another
- At Cana: the missionary who points out Jesus to others – ‘do whatever he tells you’
Our challenge is to be missionary like Mary.
Some people are missionaries by leaving home – SMA, Missionary Srs of Our Lady of Apostles, Franciscan Missionary Srs of St Joseph, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, Infant Jesus Srs, Columban Fathers, Kiltegan Fathers, Holy Ghost Fathers and a whole host of others. [83 Congregations in Ireland alone attached to the IMU, along with Lay Missionaries]
But you don’t have to leave home to be a missionary.
- Whenever and wherever you trust in God even when all the signs point the other way – then you are being missionary;
- Whenever you bring the Good News of God’s Love and mercy to another – then you are being missionary;
- Whenever you enable another to recognise Jesus’ activity in their life – then you are being missionary.
Being missionary is less about saying words than it is of doing deeds.
St Francis: “Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words”
St Augustine: “God has ears to hear what the heart is saying”
Being missionary is about expressing through our actions that our very humanity has entered into the very life of God. We live, in other words, the reality of the Ascension.
We can do this when we truly believe “how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers.”
Tonight, through Mary, we pray that the Holy Spirit will overshadow us to help us love each other as Christ has loved us and through this witness of love become true missionaries in our families, our community, our country and for the whole world.