“Go Ye Into the Whole World...” (2019)
Fr. Martin Fuchs´s sermon on 6th January 2019, Prague, Czechia
The Epiphany of Our Lord
Ludwig and Gertrud were children of a poor widow. When their father died, Ludwig was 7 and Gertrud was 6 years old. After her husband’s death, the mother looked with even greater care for the upbringing of her children.
She often told them about the poor pagan children in China and in Africa who did not know Our Lord and who had never heard of Child Jesus. The lively compassion for the Gentiles gave rise to a firm decision in their hearts.
“I want to become a missionary and go to the savage peoples“, Ludwig said to his sister one day. “And I‘m going with you!“, little Gertrud replied. “You can’t!“, declared Ludwig definitely, “a girl cannot become a missionary.“ – “Of course, she can“, Gertrud explained, “you convert and baptize the savages and I take care of the little children!“ – “All right“, Ludwig answered, “tomorrow, we are going to leave!“ The decision was made!
When the mother had left the house the following morning in order to go to the Holy Mass and to make the necessary purchases, both children dressed quickly, took a large piece of bread leaving as quickly as they could. They hoped to reach faraway Africa or Asia soon.
At lunch-time, the hunger was noticeable. They therefore consumed their bread and went on their way. That is when they came to a creek. But how should they cross the water?
Ludwig soon knew what to do. He collected some big stones and threw them into the creek. Full of trust in God, they tried to cross the dangerous creek, and indeed they succeeded. On the other bank they believed to be already in the land of the savages. – “Be quiet!“, Ludwig whispered and pointed to a tall man near the tree, “that is certainly a savage; we have to go to him!“
The children were approaching quietly so as not to frighten the savage. When they were close enough, Ludwig politely took off his cap and asked, “Mister Savage, have you ever been baptized?” The large man replied testily: “Why does this concern you, little fellow?“
Terrified, Gertrud plucked his brother’s sleeve and whispered: “Let’s go, I am afraid.“ – But Ludwig did not give up; he asked more kindly than before: “Mr. Savage, have you already been baptized?“ – “Well“, replied the latter, “why do you think that I am a savage?“
Now Ludwig told him, how he and his sister had gone away in the morning in order to get to Africa and convert the savages there, and why they think there must probably be the land of the savages because the way was very long and the sun was shining very hot.
Then the face of the strange gentleman cleared up to a friendly smile. He took the little boy on his knees and Ludwig had to tell him the whole story again. He described with enthusiasm what the mother told them about the poor unbelieving pagans far away, how they would die without baptism and without knowing Jesus, and they may be lost forever; and how he and his sister decided to convert these people.
During this child story the man was moved to tears!
“You are not in Africa yet. But you do not have to go that far to meet a savage“, he replied. “Here is one in front of you, a European who has already been baptized but who is perhaps even worse than those you want to seek. But from now on I want to become a real Christian. Are you satisfied?“
Of course, the children were happy to have converted an unbeliever. The man brought the two children back to their mother, told her the whole story, and wished her good luck because her teaching had already produced such fruits in her children.
The mother who has already been very worried about the children was relieved now. Yes – she was very happy that her children brought a lost soul back to God.
This is one little missionary story out of many others. All of them have their origins in the today’s feast. The wise men sought and found the Saviour by a star and they returned converted to their homeland. The first pagan mission! And they brought this joy to the pagan people in their country.
I remember well the crib in the kindergarten. There was a Moor with a cash box. When he got a coin, he nodded with his mobile head. It was a collection for the pagan people in Africa in order to give them the necessary instructions to receive baptism.
Missions are also our job: Pagan mission and mission of the indifferent Christians. Jesus ordered us before His Ascension: “Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.“ (Mark 16:16)
We don‘t need to go to Africa to convert people. How many unbaptized people live in our country? Buddhists, Mohammedans, unbaptized children of Catholic parents…
May everybody find the Saviour in the manger and may he announce this joy to his fellow men!
The mission begins in our family, in our house. That is why we have our house or our flat blessed on the feast of Epiphany. Everybody who enters our house should find Jesus, Mary and saint Joseph. Everybody should find holy pictures, blessed water and Christian books there! Everybody should find a prayer-life there! Morning prayer, evening prayer and prayers before and after the meal. May we help our fellow men, particularly in their spiritual needs! Amen.