Church of the Holy Trinity

A Family - Centered Catholic Church Serving Northern Tuscarawas County

Mission Sunday - The Work of The Church is "Missions"

We have often heard Father Jeff remind us that the primary task of the Church is evangelization and sanctification. Another way of saying this is "to make disciples" as Jesus says in His final admonishment and commission to the apostles. As we look at foundational Church history, as read in our epistles, gospel passages, and the words of our Lord over the past several Sundays, one can easily draw this conclusion. What may not be as apparent is just how important this work is to Our Lord.

In the gospel from the Feast of the Ascension we see our Lord returning to his Father; He gathers the eleven apostles and makes a statement to them as a group. At this point, they were the Church of Jesus Christ (or certainly Her leadership). He did not tell John to do one thing, Peter another, James something else. No, He gave them – as a group – a single commission: “Go ye therefore into the world and make disciples of all nations…”.

That’s why we say “THE work of the Church is missions”.

I must often remind myself that the primary work of the Catholic Church is not self-preservation, the perfection of organization and equipment, the improvement of the membership, service to the community, nor other “firsts” that people might propose. As important as these functions are, they do not accurately describe Her essential function. In our first reading from Acts 1:8 Jesus reveals the coming of the Holy Spirit, and commands them to wait in Jerusalem to be filled with this power from God. But He also prophesies (as we see in the Gospel) "and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth." Jesus is essentially telling the leaders of His Church “The Holy Spirit is coming; He will empower you; and THIS is what you must do with that power”.

And the early Church almost fulfilled Jesus' command to a tee...but not quite. They did indeed remain in Jerusalem, committing themselves to prayer as they awaited the Holy Spirit's arrival. Then on that powerful day they certainly, and immediately began preaching the gospel in the city, baptizing, breaking the Bread, etc., and the Church grew quickly. But I don't read anywhere in these passages that they then moved out to the uttermost parts of the world. It appears to me that for the next five chapters they stayed right there in the Holy City. What were the consequences of this inaction? We need only look at what happens next in the Jerusalem Church to get an idea. Perhaps I’m reading too much into these verses, but when I read “there arose on that day a great persecution against the church and they were all scattered abroad" (Acts 8:2), I can’t help but wonder if perhaps the reason persecution was allowed in the Jerusalem church was because, having received the Holy Spirit, it had NOT gone on to make disciples of all nations, and God had to drive it to its assigned task by permitting persecution. Indeed, Acts 8:4 tells us: "and they that were scattered abroad [i.e., the individuals who are also called the persecuted church] went about preaching the word". Collectively and individually, the church of Jesus Christ was finally obeying the Great Commission. But it seems to have taken a “great persecution” to jump-start them. Perhaps this is why Tertullian declares "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christianity." Perhaps this is why we might all acclaim: "The work of the Church is missions!"

This Lord's Day we celebrate "Missions Sunday", which is an opportunity for each of us to participate in this primary task. As we give, we think of those who are being fed, clothed, sheltered, etc. through the social gospel...all very good and necessary things. But let us remember that our offering is primarily being used to further the task given to us by Christ Himself. Through our offering, we are sending disciples into the uttermost parts of the earth to evangelize and sanctify precious souls. Through our offering we are participating in the Great Commission!

God Bless you as you give.

Caps Corner Bio

Mark Capuano

By the Fall of 2008 Mark Capuano (Cap) was comfortable and content with his life as an Evangelical Elder.  Thinking he "had it all figured out" his thoughts were primarily on spending his remaining years in the company of friends and acquaintances within his tight circle of fellow believers in rural Ohio.  God had other plans.  

Spurred by a particularly harsh criticism of the Catholic Church he'd heard from a missionary to Italy, Cap decided to finally explore the history of Christianity in depth.  Only this time, rather than reading what others had to say, he decided to go right to the source - the Apostolic Fathers.  What he discovered changed his mind, his world, his life.  

A study which began as an apology of Catholicism to be a legitimate, Biblically based Christian religion, ended up a defense of Orthodoxy itself, and the first step in a personal journey back to the Church of his youth.  By the summer of 2011 the journey was complete.  His book "Giving My Ancestors a Vote" details this thought process from a first person perspective.  Mark's hope is that it will ultimately be of value as a starting point toward unity, which is the prayer of our Lord.  

"Cap's Corner" is a collection of short thoughts and lessons, also intended to help others along their own person faith journey.  Never at a loss for wit, you may find these articles interesting and enjoyable.

Cap currently resides in Bolivar, Ohio and is a member of The Church of The Holy Trinity in Zoar.  A professional chemical/materials engineer, he is now retired from The Timken Steel Company.  In addition to Jesus Christ, his passions include music, reading, and fishin'.