parthenonHere’s a question:

Did the name of the city of Athens come from the name of the goddess Athena?

Or did the goddess’ name come from the name of the city?

Plato reports that the goddess’ name is from the Greek for “God’s knowledge” (Cratylus 407b).

On the other hand, a number of ancient Greek cities worshiped the same goddess. The different cities called her by different names, and her name was always based on the name of the city. In Mycenae she was called Mykene, and in Thebes she was called Thebe…


God came to earth on a mission. Jesus Christ was the first missionary.

There are lots of missions out there. The U.S. military is on a mission in Afghanistan. Gilbert Arenas is on a mission to get the Wizards back in the playoffs. A wife might send her husband on a mission to the grocery store to get some milk.

arenasBut of all the missions that people can have, there is only one that will bring about eternal results. That is the mission of Jesus Christ, the mission of His Church—our mission.

Today is World Mission Sunday. There are still places in this world where people have never even heard of Jesus Christ. The missionaries who are spreading the Good News rely on our generous contributions. So we have a second collection in order to send the foreign missions some money.

But let’s face it: Today what we really have is two collections for the missions. Every Sunday we have a missionary collection here. Our parish is a mission field. This neighborhood is a place where a lot of people still need to be ransomed.

It would be wonderful if everyone who lived between F Street and New York Avenue were living as members of the Body of Christ. It would be great if everyone between 6th Street and 18th Street, Northeast, knew the teachings of Jesus and lived by them.

origamiBut that’s not the way it is.

If it were, I could chill out. I could learn how to play golf or something. I could take up origami or tiddly winks. And everybody in the Church could just relax and get ready for heaven.

But we are surrounded by work we have to do. We have a mission: to do everything we can to help our neighbors get to heaven. It’s not just about us. No one can get himself to heaven without trying to get his neighbor there, too. As the Lord said:

Whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve. (Mark 10:45)

The health of the church depends on our missionary attitude. Without zeal for the salvation of souls, a parish can lose its identity and become a kind of suffocating private club, where everyone’s energies are consumed with petty squabbles.

God help us if we get hung up on ourselves. God help us if we think that church is just for us. No: the business of Holy Name parish is the salvation of every soul living between F Street, 6th Street, New York Avenue and 18th St.


This is our mission. Let’s think about the tools we have for accomplishing it.

First and foremost, we have ourselves. Our own prayerfulness and piety, our own upright and honest lives—nothing is more evangelical than our own example. The closer each of us gets to the Lord, the more a beacon of truth we become. If we listen carefully to the Word of God, if we pray humbly and fervently, if we dedicate ourselves to Him, then we will draw other people to Him, too. The Lord gives joy to those who serve Him, even in the face of difficulties and suffering. This joy of faith attracts people like nothing else does.

To have Christian joy, we must constantly examine our consciences and purify our hearts. The successful missionary is the one who goes to Confession frequently.

The second most important missionary tool we have is this building. The presence of this church building in our neighborhood is a perpetual message to our neighbors. The building declares ‘God is here. Come inside and receive His gifts.’

Holy_Name_Church_and_RectoryWe preach to the world by praying and praising God here with dignity and solemnity. The foundation of this building is the holy Catholic faith.

Our church has been around a while. Time has taken a little bit of a toll on this building. Maybe time has taken a little bit of a toll on some of us, too. But we are still here. The Lord still has missionary work for us to do.

So let’s pray hard that God will give us the means to fulfill our mission as best we can. And let’s work hard for the salvation of souls.

One thought on “Missionaries

  1. Sounds like today’s gospel should be just the inspiration you need. Like James and John we should ask boldly and be prepared to answer “We Can!”

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