Extraordinary Missionary Year 2019: Bishop Sebastian Francis’ Homily for the Launching

It is with great joy that we choose today, the Solemnity of Epiphany to Launch the Extraordinary Missionary Year for our Diocese.

Jan 13, 2019

To all the Faithful,
It is with great joy that we choose today, the Solemnity of Epiphany to Launch the Extraordinary Missionary Year for our Diocese.

In 1919, Pope Benedict XV (who is also known as the Missionary Pope), wrote the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud, (the grand and sublime mission) inviting us to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. The Great Missionary Command. This year is the 100th Anniversary of that Letter and it is still as relevant, if not more so today, then ever. Pope Francis has set aside Oct 2019 as the Extraordinary Missionary Month (EMM OCT2019), culminating on Mission Sunday which will be celebrated on October 20, 2019. The Bishops of Malaysia have decided that we will set this time from today, the Solemnity of Epiphany, to the end Oct 2019 as the Extraordinary Missionary Year. The Universal theme given by Pope Francis is Baptised and Sent – The Church of Christ on Mission in the World.

Why are we doing this?
If we look at the Gospel today, the wise men came from the East to seek Jesus. It is the same journey which every baptised person must make. In our hearts, we make a journey to look for peace, for joy, for healing, for answers, for purpose.

We make a journey to look for Jesus. After the wise men found him, they worshipped and adored Him, and they went back to their own lands to share the story about the Saviour whom they had found. They were missionaries of the birth of Jesus.

We gather every Sunday because we found Jesus and we come here to worship Him. We are all still in the process of learning about Jesus and that learning never stops. We are learning who Jesus means in our lives. We are learning about His peace in all circumstances – His Joy in the midst of challenges, His Healing in the face of so many wounds, His answers in the many questions we face and who He is to us – which gives us our purpose.

As Catholics who are Baptised, we are the Church – the Church of Christ. As such, we have the duty to respond to the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ to “go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15). Obeying this mandate of the Lord is not an option for the Church. In the words of the Second Vatican Council, it is Her “essential task,” for the Church is “missionary by nature.” (Ad Gentes,) “Evangelising is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity; she exists in order to evangel ise.” ( Evangelii Nuntiandi,)

The Council went on to say that, if the Church is to remain faithful to Herself and to proclaim Jesus crucified and risen for all, the living and merciful Saviour, then “prompted by the Holy Spirit, she must walk the same path Christ walked: a path of simplicity and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice.” (Ad Gentes,) In this way, she will effectively proclaim the Lord, “model of that redeemed humanity, imbued with brotherly love, sincerity and a peaceful spirit, to which all aspire.” (Ad Gentes,). In St Paul’s Letter to the Philippians 2:15, Scripture says that when we allow God to work in us, we will “be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which (we) shine like stars in the world” (Phil 2:15). Let us shine and be like that star that led the wise men to Jesus.

We have lined up a series of Formation till June of this year to help us all reflect and prepare to go out into the world as missionaries. Each Parish may have your own activities to supplement this Missionary Focus. Then from June to Oct, we invite Pilgrimages to Assumption Church in Penang / to the designated places to be inspired by how the Faith came to Malaysia and went out to all the different peoples not only in Malaysia but throughout the region. We will venerate the relics of the missionary saints and martyrs who have become part of our journey in this Diocese. Parishes are encouraged to organise Mission outreaches to address the many, many needs not only within the Parish, but to also look at those in need in the Diocese, in the country and beyond our shores.

You are Baptised and Sent – You are the Church of Christ on Mission in the World.
So it is with great pleasure that I open this Extraordinary Year of Mission for the Diocese of Penang. Go, tell the world around you about the Saviour you have found and worshipped.

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