Msgr. James McDonough
Summer … the word immediately invokes thoughts of a deep, beautiful, blue ocean with waves lapping at the shore or a serene lake with a picturesque mountain view.
For Catholics, the thoughts of an ocean or lake may be reminiscent of Jesus and His disciples: “The disciples saw Jesus walking on the sea and they were terrified. ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid,’ Jesus said. Peter replied, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him” (Matthew 14:26a, 27-31a).
When reflecting on this passage, one may be quick to criticize Peter for his lack of faith. But, in thinking more, one may have a different perspective. Even though Peter faltered, recognize that Peter was the only disciple who stepped out of the boat. He draws close to Christ while the other disciples sit in the boat. Peter’s step is a step of faith, of commitment and obedience.
Missionaries follow in Peter’s steps. They are obedient to God’s call and bring comfort to suffering and poor people on every continent. Missionaries follow Peter’s step of faith and obedience when teaching the Catholic faith to children, ministering to sick and elderly people and caring for people by bringing them the Good News of God’s merciful love.
Today, when you’re serving God and being obedient to Christ, you will have to face storms in your life. Maybe its’ financial problems or job-related. You might be having relationship problems with family or friends. We all have storms in life; yet we are asked by God to have faith and be obedient by “loving your neighbor as yourself.”
For the people in the Diocese of Tororo, Uganda, there is an ocean of storms in their lives especially with the need for clean drinking water. With global warming, the people have painfully witnessed the disappearance of this resource. Without fresh water they are forced to drink contaminated river water, which causes intestinal diseases, or in many instances death. Tororo’s Bishop Denis Kiwanuka writes, is the gift of life. Five wells have recently been built, but it is not enough water for the 2.5 million people living here.”
Seminarians in mission lands are also, like Peter, obedient to God’s call. At the St. Augustine Seminary in Jos, Nigeria, more than 300 seminarians serve in local parishes, hospitals and prisons, while studying for the priesthood. Some seminarians have weathered their own storms. Last November, for example, some of them survived an attack on the seminary. As Andrew Midim, one of the seminarians, prayed at the time, “I have placed my hands in those of Christ, trusting in Him.” Andrew and his classmates weathered this storm with resolve. They are convinced that the people in their homeland need the message of Jesus and His promise of the Eucharist.
This summer, please pray and sacrifice for the missionaries who have devoted their lives to work with our brothers and sisters in more than 1,100 dioceses in Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands and remote regions of Latin America.
Your support helps with the formation of more than 40,000 seminarians, religious men and women novices and lay catechists in mission dioceses. Help is offered for pastoral and evangelizing programs, for catechists and catechetical materials, to build churches and chapels, for the work of religious communities in health care, education and emergency relief, and for communication and transportation.
To learn more about supporting the missions, go to www.phillymissions.org or call 215-587-3944.
Remember, through prayer and acts of sacrifice, by your words and actions, you become a missionary for the Lord.
Msgr. James McDonough is the director of the Archdiocesan Office of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.