MISSION SUNDAY

Always the Same - Myriad Manifestations

First Reading (Zech 8: 20-23): The Gentiles turned to the true God
Second Reading (1 Tim (2: 1-8): God wants all people to be saved
Gospel (Mk 16: 15-20): The sending of the Apostles to all Nations
Chinese classics:
-“Heaven never speaks but one can feel his all-embracing, creative power in the turning of the seasons and the growing of all things (1)

“He desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all - this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (1 Tim 2: 4-7)

In Hong Kong in the sixties and seventies there was a yearly public liturgical celebration on the feast of Christ the King, to show our trust and allegiance to Christ the King. The ceremony was held at the Government Stadium. Later this celebration was transferred to Mission Sunday to show our determination to spread the Good News beyond our own confines. Each year a theme is set in order to help everyone understand the reasons for the celebration, enter into its spirit and carry this out in action. One year the theme of Mission Sunday revolved around the topic, “God is Always the Same.”

Christ and his Father truly are 'always the same.' This unchangeable attribute is most evident in their very existence, their internal life of love, and their love of all human beings, their salvific, everlasting love, their unchangeable love.

God exists eternally and is eternally present and loves us for all eternity. It is because God bestows this love on us that we can have such an abundant and full life, a life that began from the moment of creation, lasts until now and through all eternity. This eternal, unchangeable life is a gift from God. God loves us and so wants us to be saved and has given us this eternal abundant life.

Because God is love with a love which is always the same.

We are different from God. We 'have' love, we 'can' love, we 'sometimes' love, but we 'are not' love. Love is a part of our life, one action among many of our actions. But we 'are not' love, because there are times when we do not love, or are unable to love.

Even the most loving parents in the world do not always love their children; even those close to each other, as brothers and sisters, at times may become enemies of one another. Have we not sometimes even seen some parents maltreating their children? In Chinese history, in the many court intrigues, are there not some examples of even blood relations killing each other to attain the imperial throne?

But God IS love. Love is integral to God's very essence. God not only HAS love, but in his very self IS love; God cannot NOT love. God made us and wants to love us and also wants to save us. That is, even if some people reject salvation, Jesus still would need to be a Mediator between human beings and God, so that we could again attain salvation.

That is God's unchangeableness and also the unchangeableness of Christ: their unchangeable love. It is for love of us that God even ”gave us his only Son.” (Jn 3:16) But the unchangeable quality of God and Christ's love manifests itself in countless ways. We have many evidences of this.

God created the universe, gave us the soothing wind, the green grass and colorful flowers, the birds and beasts, and ordered the course of the changing seasons, arranged the glories of creation. God is the one whom Confucius did not know but who felt the presence of a true Spirit: “Heaven never speaks but one can feel his all-embracing, creative power in the turning of the seasons and the growing of all things”. (1)

That is a manifestation of the numerous faces of the unchangeable God.

God is in the midst of us; hidden in the sacraments, in the Scriptures. God moves us, guides us along life's journey. These are also manifestations of God. Another is God's presence in the least of our brothers and sisters and in those who are the most unfortunate: Christ said “just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Mt 25:40)

God whispers to us through the stars and speaks to us through the signs of the times. God is hidden in nature and is present in our conscience. Vatican Council II thinks that our conscience is the 'sacred place' of God. “Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a person. There the person is alone with God whose voice echoes in the depths of one's being.” (Church in the Modern World, No. 16)

When we evangelize, the one we preach about is this God who is always the same in everlasting love for humankind. But we must look for God in the countless manifestations of the Godhead, and help others to do the same. Together with others we must unearth this never-changing God who is hidden in the midst of a changing world.

'Evangelization' is to make this suggestion to others: “Let us go and strive together to search for this God who is always the same and is always among us!’

(1)天何言哉!四時行焉,百物生焉;天何言哉!