In the early 19th century, Rev. Dr. John Scudder, missionary and physician, was the first medical missionary in India. He became convinced that he was called to be a missionary. Then, he became thoroughly committed to serving God through medical missions. First he went to Sri Lanka and then to India to proclaim the gospel. He established a large hospital, founded several native schools and churches. He and his wife Harriet had six sons and two daughters, all of whom became medical missionaries and worked in South India.
In the first reading, Philip explained the scripture passage of the prophet Isaiah to the Ethiopian eunuch. His reading from a scroll of Isaiah affirms his interest in Judaism. When he struggles to understand the passage from Isaiah, Philip obviously preaches to him about the passage’s fulfillment in Jesus, especially his death and resurrection. Then, the Ethiopian desires baptism and he gets baptized and goes on rejoicing. As the Ethiopian is anxious for baptism, so Philip is anxious to move on because he is a man with a mission!
Jesus too had a mission; mission of his Father. "For no one has seen the Father except the One who comes from God; he has seen the Father"(Jn 6:46). In the Gospel of John, the Father now teaches anew through Jesus about living bread. The familiar manna language from Exodus takes on new meaning and finds its fulfillment. Jesus has given himself for us our food in the Eucharist that gives eternal life.
As Christians, we too have a mission – the mission of Christ. We are all called to be missionaries either directly or indirectly in proclaiming the good news that Jesus has brought to us. As the body is broken and shared in the Eucharist, so our lives be broken and shared with others. As Mother Theresa beautifully said, "We all have a mission, a mission to love."
Fr. A. Justin Nelson, C.P. is a member of our Indian Vicariate and temporarily stationed at St. Mary’s Parish, Fairfield, Alabama.