Missionary Disciples: Following the Example of Mother Cabrini

Homily for the Memorial of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

As we continue to approach the end of this liturgical year, which will happen in just a couple of short weeks from now with the Feast of Christ the King, the Church uses this as an opportunity to invite us to consider the world to come and to invite us to think about the end times. The readings that we hear as we have approached the final weeks of Ordinary Time are meant to challenge us and challenge our understanding of how we are called to live in this life as Christians, to challenge us to embrace a deeper sense of Christian discipleship. Our readings today continue that theme.

We are called to be in the world, but not of the world. As the adopted children of God, our home is in Heaven. And we see what can happen when we don’t live out of that primary identity. Look at the world we live in today. Secularism is on the rise, people seemingly have no regard for God, Christian values are declining, and many of us are left wondering when things got so bad. The election really brought a lot of that to the light. And it leaves us with a sense of anxiety and weariness about the future. So many of us are concerned about family members who are far from the Church, who have strayed from belief in God; loved ones who have embraced the values of this world, rather than Godly values. It’s difficult for us to lovingly challenge those family members and to remind them that this world is not our home. All we can do is continue to lead by example and to pray for them. 

As Catholics, we are called to be countercultural. When the world is telling us to focus on material things, on success, on accumulating the most wealth, on having the best car and the best home, we are called to be different. We aren’t called to lose ourselves in this world; instead, we are called to focus on what is truly important: deepening our relationship with God, following His Will, and leading others to an encounter with Him.

That is something that St. Frances Xavier Cabrini understood. She once said: “We must pray without tiring, for the salvation of mankind does not depend upon material success . . . but on Jesus alone.” Mother Cabrini was more concerned about instilling in others this great faith that we have as Catholic Christians. Her passion was to remind others that Jesus is the most important person in our lives. She had this incredible missionary zeal to go out and proclaim the gospel, to invite others to have a relationship with Jesus, and to embrace this faith that we so cherish.

Now more than ever before, being those missionary disciples is the task that the Lord needs us to take up. Instead of getting so caught up in the negative things happening in the world, let’s change our perspective. Look at it this way, right now is the best time to be a Catholic, it is the best time to be a Christian. Why? Because the world is all mission territory. We can go out and tell others about Jesus, and that is exactly what the Lord is inviting us to embrace: the mission of being those witnesses to Him, going out and proclaiming the Gospel.

And so, the question for each of us is are we taking this call to embrace true discipleship seriously? Are we willing to enter more deeply into relationship with God, to follow His Will, and to go out and proclaim the Gospel? Or are we letting fear and anxiety prevent us from accomplishing those things? As we encounter the Lord this morning in the Eucharist, let’s ask for the grace to be reminded of our identity as His beloved sons and daughters and ask for the grace to, like St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, embrace the task of becoming missionary disciples in a world that so desperately needs us.

Published by Fr. Tom Pringle

Priest of the Diocese of Orlando. Parochial Vicar at Holy Family Catholic Church, Orlando.

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