This extension of Christ's compassion should be YOU. Let us pray today that everyone will rediscover the missionary vocation they received on the day of their baptism.
Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
The liturgical remembrance of the great missionary St. Francis Xavier helps us better understand today’s Gospel reading. What does it mean to be a missionary? It means embodying this verse from today’s passage:
“At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Missionaries are an extension of Christ’s compassion in history, everywhere on earth. A missionary heart is a heart overflowing with compassion. Missionaries aren’t commercial agents, nor hunters of new recruits for the Church. Instead, they are mysteriously Jesus who continues to take every man and woman of this world to heart, especially those who have not yet come to know God’s love.
In this sense, missionaries’ work also involves their body. Being present, going to the ends of the earth, means more than just sending a message or propagating information about God. Even when missionaries cannot open their mouths, they themselves are the message. They are the traveling Gospel, like Jesus, like Francis Xavier, and like thousands of other men and women who have traveled the earth over the centuries to make Jesus present.
But despite two millennia, Jesus’ prayer still remains urgent:
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”
Let us pray today that everyone will rediscover the missionary vocation they received on the day of their baptism.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.