Synodality and today’s apostolate
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Fr. Roy Cimagala
“JESUS appointed seventy-two other disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so, ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals’”…(Lk 10,1-4)
So goes the gospel of the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, celebrated on July 3. It reminds us that we are all meant to be apostles of Christ, to be his ambassadors. That’s simply because we are meant to be like Christ, to be ‘another Christ,’ and so we share also in his redemptive mission which is a continuing affair as long as we are still in this world.
No wonder then that Christ would just choose his apostles seemingly at random. He would just pass by a certain place, and upon seeing someone, he would just say, “Come, follow me.” And wonder of wonders also, the person called would just follow him without question. In fact, it is said that the person called would leave everything behind (“relictis omnibus”).
We are all meant to be apostles of Christ with the lifelong concern for doing apostolate, taking advantage of all the occasions and situations in life to do so. Vatican II spells it out very clearly. “The Christian vocation is by its very nature a vocation to the apostolate.” (Apostolicam actuositatem, 2) So, anyone who wants to be truly consistent to his Christian identity should realize ever deeply that he is called to help others get closer to God. This is what apostolate is all about.
Given the state of affairs of the world today, we have to understand that while we always have to give special apostolic attention to the traditional mission lands which usually are far-away places with primitive cultures, we should not forget that today’s peripheries are the mainstream society that is drifting away from God and religion.
In this regard, it behooves us to truly immerse ourselves in the complexities of the lives of these new peripheries and new mission lands. We have to disabuse ourselves from the thought that to be missionaries, we have to be priests or nuns. Everyone, especially the laity, has to be a missionary.
Today’s missionaries should be in the world of business and politics, in the fields of the sciences, arts and technologies, in the academe, offices, streets and farms, in sports, fashion and recreation, etc. In other words, where the people are they should also be there, tackling with everyone else the spiritual and moral issues and challenges of the times, finding ways of sanctifying everything and leading everyone and the world to God.
They, of course, have to be properly trained and skilled in the ways of the spiritual and supernatural, on the one hand, and of the mundane and secular on the other. They have to learn to blend the sacred things in life and the earthly and temporal elements.
This means that they have to be truly spiritual men, so vitally identified with Christ that they can take on anything without getting scandalized by the complexities and the unavoidable dirt of today’s challenges.
Today, they have to learn the art of synodality, where there’s the effort to reach out to everyone in every level and sector of society, listening to each other, and moving together toward God, without confusing the distinctive character and mission of each one.