By Amanda Lopez
IS YOUR FAITH A SMALL FLICKERING LIGHT OR A BIG WILD FIRE?
117 parishioners from Jesus Caritas Church in Kepong were questioned by their parish priest, Fr. Michael Chua on a reflective Saturday afternoon. The parishioners were on a well-crafted one-day pilgrimage formation in Malacca aligned with Pope Francis’s Call to Evangelisation in this Extraordinary Mission Year (EMY) 2019.
To ignite the spark, the pilgrims were taken to three churches in the most historic state¬– Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe (the Star of New Evangelisation), Church of St. Therese of Lisieux and the Church of St. Francis Xavier — the two Patron Saints of Mission. The pilgrims were also given insight into the lives of each Saint, their profound stories of perseverance and keeping to the evangelising mission.
Faith is strengthened when it’s given to others!
Fr. Michael, in his formation, explained that “The most important mission of the church is to evangelise (Mt 28:19-20). Evangelising is one’s vocation. Missionary work brings about enthusiasm about sharing the Word of God, which means when one keeps the faith to oneself, it gets weaker. So if we want to strengthen our faith, share it with someone else.”
This is expected of All of us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 863 states that “all members of the church share in this mission, though in various ways… that aim to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth.” Vatican II states that “the task of evangelising all people constitute the essential mission of the church… She exists in order to evangelise.” (EvangeliiNuntiandi 14)
He added that while the goal is to transform the world and society, Pope St John Paul II says it begins with self. Firstly through our Baptism, then through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, God brings about conversion of the heart that brings about change to many other things, like our words, thoughts, actions and behaviour.
RedemptorisMissio 33talks about:
- Evangelisation — Preaching to those who have never heard the Gospel
- Re-Evangelisation — Preaching to Christian communities where the church is present, and who have fervour in their faith.
- New Evangelisation — Preaching to those Christian communities who “have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church, and live a life far removed from Christ and His Gospel.
10 Things that PopeFrancis wants you to know about Evangelisation
- Everyone is meant to evangelise.
- Authentic personal fulfilment is found in the mission to evangelise.
- Evangelisation starts with our own relationship with Jesus.
- We must witness the faith with our lives.
- An Evangeliser must be joyful.
- We must encounter people to evangelise.
- We must proclaim the kerygma – the initial proclamation of the Gospel
- We need to get out of our comfort zone.
- Evangelisers love People
- Everyone needs to be evangelised (including ourselves).
Two aspects of Mission
Fr. Dominic Tan, who co-led the formation, said while St FrancisXavier reflects the active aspect of leading and tending missions including in Goa, India, Malacca and to Japan, St. Therese on the other hand never left the cloister, reflecting instead on the contemplative part of mission. “Praying for mission is also part of mission,” he said.
Picking on St. Paul’s teachings, Fr. Michael told the pilgrims that prayer is the foundation of evangelisation –so that the door to others’ hearts open and for one not to give up on the vision of the mission.
He also said that one must act wisely and talk pleasantly with others as people are more willing to listen to those who are friendly and pleasant. The illustrious St. Francis, the patron Saint who had set foot in Malaysia, spoke 84 languages in his years of mission. His passion for spreading the gospel, simple obedience and humility made him a good imitation of Christ.
Thus, when sharing the Good News, he said it needs to be like honey not vinegar, referring to St. Francis de Sales who said “A spoonful of honey gets more flies than a barrel full of vinegar.”
Mission is not a one man show
Mission is not an individual act but acollaborative ministry in the mission of the church. Fr. Michael said it is a powerful thing if all disciples of Christ can work together. For, in showing oneness, one’s goodness and exposing the truth, unbelievers will be drawn to God.
The parish priest of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Fr. Patrick Tyoh Kai Hong also shared the journey of St. Juan Diego, Icon of Mary’s Evangelising Mission having experienced four apparitions to build a chapel on Tepeyec Hill which brought about a miraculous imprinted image of the Virgin Mary on the flower-filled cloak which is present to this day which brought about many conversions.
The pilgrims’ fruitful journey ended with a call to help the parish to live out the mission of Evangelisation. Parishioners were called to reflect on:
- In what concrete ways can I begin to evangelise, to proclaim the joy of the gospel to others? Who?
- How can we help our parish to live out the mission of evangelisation
It only takes a spark
To get a fire going
And soon all those around
Can warm up in its glowing
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it
You spread His love to everyone
You want to pass it on.
(Verse 1, Pass It On Lyrics)