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​World Mission Sunday highlights valuing human dignity, serving the most vulnerable

November 03, 2020 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper

Topics: Archbishop, In the Press, Breaking News

World Mission Sunday highlights valuing human dignity, serving the most vulnerable

World Mission Sunday is an occasion when local churches come together in universal solidarity so that Catholics around the world recognize their common responsibility to evangelize all the earth.

On October 18, in a liturgy at San Fernando Cathedral, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS, explained to the faithful that every time we come as a community to celebrate the Eucharist, we certainly come to be nourished by the Lord. “He gives us His Word and His own Body and Blood so that nothing can lack in our relationship with Him and with our neighbors,” said the archbishop. “But also, every time we come around the Lord’s table, we are called to grow in our Christian commitment, in our vocation to go out into the world to bear fruit that is pleasing to God.”

The difficulties of the world today seem to be asking even more from everyone. After seven months of being restricted in most activities by the coronavirus pandemic, many Christian brethren are being hurt in a variety of ways: emotionally, financially, socially, and spiritually.

“You and I are called to bring them hope. But as if all this were not enough, we are also going through times in which we see division, lack of charity, and accusations of all sorts,” Archbishop Gustavo emphasized. “Partly, this has increased as we are going through election season. It seems really fitting that today we come to listen to the gospel.”

This discussion between Jesus and the Pharisees in Matthew 22:15-21 is used by many to suggest that those who are active in their faith should keep this aspect of their life out of the political world. “But all of us, in one way or another, acknowledge that these are not two separate spheres of our existence,” said the archbishop. “Our behavior and choices in society affect deeply the way in which we live.”

The Herodians and Pharisees in the gospel account who pose the question to the Lord about paying tax to Cesar are not really seeking guidance in making a difficult moral decision. They are simply trying to trap Jesus into a no-win situation with a tricky question that cannot be easily solved. In asking Jesus to take a stand on this question, the Lord’s opponents are trying to discredit him. If he supports paying the tax, then he would be seen as cooperating with the enemy, and his credibility as a prophet coming from God would be compromised. If he replies that the tax should not be paid, then he places himself as an enemy of the Romans.

The Lord finds a way through these two possibilities: one should give the coins, which were stamped with the face of the emperor, back to Cesar, since they belong to him. But then he turns the focus towards “what belongs to God.” His enemies cannot reply to this.

The Missionary of the Holy Spirit called for listeners to focus on the positive side of Jesus’ answer, saying, “As Christians we should truly strive to give everything back to God, to make all things go according to the principles of His Kingdom, and to work hard to allow His truth and peace to be part of the structures that govern our life.”

In his new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis gives a clear example of how actions should work through love at different levels. The Holy Father writes, “There is also a ‘commanded’ love, expressed in those acts of charity that spur people to create more sound institutions, more just regulations, more supportive structures. It follows that it is an equally indispensable act of love to strive to organize and structure society so that one’s neighbor will not find himself in poverty. It is an act of charity to assist someone suffering, but it is also an act of charity, even if we do not know that person, to work to change the social conditions that caused his or her suffering. If someone helps an elderly person cross a river, that is a fine act of charity. The politician, on the other hand, builds a bridge, and that too is an act of charity. While one person can help another by providing something to eat, the politician creates a job for that other person, and thus practices a lofty form of charity that ennobles his or her political activity.”

The San Antonio prelate called on all to be involved in responding to the invitations of God’s Kingdom and to work in creating structures that respect human dignity at every level.

He prayed, “May Our Lady of Guadalupe help us to be courageous in building bridges that help us to recognize the value of human dignity and the need to serve those who are most vulnerable, so that we can truly and effectively bring all things back to God.”