Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter
(Acts 5:17-26; John 3:16-21)
Missionary theory was once very simple. Missionaries brought Christ to peoples who did not know him. We find this idea reflected in both readings today. The gospel proclaims that God so loved the world that He gave His only son so that all who believe in him might have everlasting life. This is kerygma, the missionary message. The passage from Acts shows the apostles preaching in the Temple area – the paradigm of missionary activity.
As always, reality has complicated the simple vision. Missionaries going to foreign lands have found, in a sense, Christ already there. They see the people cooperating with one another and expressing genuine love for the needy. The missionaries have concluded that it is the Holy Spirit who, working in the minds and hearts of these people, have molded them in caring ways.
Still the missionaries bring something new and authentically Christian to the people. The gospel remains a unique document expressing the fullness of God’s promise however much it is corrupted in different times and places. Most importantly, missionaries bring the Eucharist which renews the death and resurrection of Jesus. This event, which we call “the paschal mystery of Jesus,” assures us of God’s love no matter who we are and calls us back to that love when we fall away.