In April, 1929, three young American Passionist priests were murdered in China. They were among a group of zealous young Passionists who had volunteered for foreign missionary work in the politically and economically chaotic world of China. They ministered in the interior of that country devoid of modern transportation and communication. They followed in the footsteps of Barnabas and Saul in our reading from Acts. They were called by the Holy Spirit and set apart by the Passionists for this evangelizing ministry. They were coming out of a heavily monastic structure and being launched into unchartered territory. Their fidelity to Jesus Crucified led them to an unexpected and violent death at the hand of bandits.
The Church in its very nature is missionary. The Church is Catholic that is it is universal but more than universal, it is for all men and women everywhere, in all cultures and in all ages. It is all-inclusive. The Church shatters tribalism, closed communities and stereotypes. In and through our Baptism, we are incorporated into this Church, this life-giving community centered in Jesus and nourished by His Body and Blood. We enter into the life and ministry of Jesus. We are called to be His presence in our contemporary world. We are called to witness to Him in word and action. We are called to witness to Him to the furthest corners of the world beginning right in our own little corner. We follow in the footsteps of Barnabas and Saul and the three murdered Passionists. Our missionary efforts may not be as dramatic as these men, but they are just as necessary. We are all in this venture together.
Our Gospel reminds us that we are called to be salt and light. Jesus tells us that our faith must be visible: “... your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father.” And He says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its taste...” We are to be passionate, filled with love for Jesus and zeal for preaching the Good News.
Brother Andre Mathieu, C.P.