“Missionary work is not something that is reserved for a select few individuals. It is the vocation of all Christians,” says Father Ambrose Pichaimuthu, National Director of Pontifical Mission Organizations.
If one could cite a single concrete example of the direct relationship of Mission Sunday with the mission of every baptized Christian, it is the emphatic remonstration of John the Baptist with King Herod: “It is not lawful for you to take your brother’s wife” (Mk 6:18). As for the Baptizer paying for his TRUTHFUL assertion with his life in fulfillment of his mission to speak the truth to power, it is precisely what gave the due touch of realism to Salvation history.
“What is truth?" (Jn 18:38a)
The world is fast becoming a hotbed of untruth, on the altar of which are being sacrificed innumerable innocent individuals. Whether it is in India or Pakistan, in Myanmar or the Philippines, or even in the Holy Roman Catholic Church itself anywhere in the world, truth is steadily becoming a major casualty.
The enormity of that casualty couldn’t have hit a higher note than when Manipur, in the North-East of our country, started burning to infamy on May 3, 2023. Its sordidness, reaching its peak with the nude-parading of two Kuki women and the gang molestation of one of them, shook the consciences of the world, though, sadly, not of those in power at the Center in India or in the state of Manipur. Do we hear Pilate’s question reverberating through all this chaos?
Essentially, truth is merely one side of the coin, the other side being ‘justice’. Christian activists per se are called to be beacons of truth and justice. The most well-known in this regard were Blessed Rani Maria and Father Stan Swamy, each a Christian social activist in their own right, both of whom could be rightly said to have become high-profile martyrs to truth and justice and, thus, examples par excellence to every believer.
Franciscan Clarist nun Sister Rani Maria became the face of the faceless by holding up the mirror of truth to the land mafia, who got her knifed to death in broad daylight on February 25, 1995, in Indore. Stan Swamy, on the other hand, gave the evil powers-that-be such jitters by his sincere Jesuit activism that those same powers literally imprisoned him to death, fittingly earning him wide acclaim as the voice of the voiceless.
The faith seeded
Didn’t Tertullian of Carthage of the 2nd century, the first Christian author of an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature, say, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church”? Well, the seed that Stan and Rani's lives and deaths sowed has already started to sprout! While Rani was raised to the honors of the Altar via ‘beatification’ on November 4, 2017, i.e., 22 years after her killing, her assailant, Samandar Singh, who offered unconditional forgiveness on a platter by her family and her religious congregation, went on to convert to the faith of his victim.
In Stan’s case, the kind of slow death he was put through has become legendary, even raising a stink of vengeance on the part of the powers-that-be that refuses to wane. And there’s already a clamor in the Church in India for his canonization! All this because both Rani and Stan, in their own individual capacities, dared speak truth to power!
Leaves of gold from lives of flesh...
In the mindless violence that engulfed Manipur, we are witnessing firsthand truth being banished into oblivion and lies glorified to peaks never scaled before, by the high and the mighty in their bid to stay in power by hook or by crook. The effects of the violence, whether verbal, physical, or mental, that we see happening are what modern Indian civilization is going to be dubiously remembered for.
Unless, of course, every committed Christian is willing to take a leaf from the lives of our modern-day Indian martyrs and speak the truth to power by holding up the mirror of truth to their smug mugs! Amen! Amen!!
Let us recognize Jesus in the Eucharist as illuminating the word of God and inviting us to joyfully set our feet firmly on the path of missionary outreach.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.