14th February. Saints Cyril and Methodius, co-patrons of Europe
1st Reading: Acts 13:46-49
(The missionary courage of the apostles, relived by Cyril and Methodius to the Slavs.)
Then both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “I have set you to be a light for the Geniles, so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.””
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and praised the word of the Lord; and as many as had been destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread throughout the region.
Gospel: Luke 10:1-9
(Jesus sends out seventy missionaries, forerunners of so many others in later centuries.)
After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
Missionaries to the Slavs
Saints Cyril and Methodius were two Byzantine brothers born in Thessalonika, northern Greece, in the 9th century They became missionaries of Christianity among the Slavic peoples of Great Moravia and Pannonia (modern Czech Republic and Hungary). Through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs, for which they received the title “Apostles to the Slavs”. They are still highly regarded among the peoples along the river Danube. A few years back (September 2009) Pope Benedict XVI gave this exhortation to a group of Slavic Christians:
“The words of Jesus, written in large letters above the entrance to your Cathedral, he addresses to each of us: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt 11:29-30). Here, as elsewhere, many people suffered in past centuries for remaining faithful to the Gospel, and they did not lose hope; many people sacrificed themselves in order to restore dignity to man and freedom to peoples, finding in their generous adherence to Christ the strength to build a new humanity. In present-day society, many forms of poverty are born from isolation, from being unloved, from the rejection of God and from a deep-seated tragic closure in man who believes himself to be self-sufficient, or else merely an insignificant and transient datum; in this world of ours which is alienated when too much trust is placed in merely human projects, only Christ can be our certain hope.
This is the message that we Christians are called to spread every day, through our witness. Proclaim it yourselves, as you exercise your ministry enthusiastically, certain that nothing can be lacking in those who put their trust in him. Bear witness to Christ through the joyful and consistent practice of the evangelical counsels, indicating where our true homeland lies: in Heaven. And you, dear young people, dear lay faithful, dear families, base on the firm foundation of faith in Christ whatever plans you have for your family, for work, for school, for activities in every sphere. Jesus never abandons his friends. He assures us of his help, for nothing can be done without him, but he asks everyone to make a personal commitment to spread his universal message of love and peace.
May you draw encouragement from the example of Saints Cyril and Methodius, the principal patrons of Moravia, who evangelized the Slavic peoples, and of Saints Peter and Paul, to whom your Cathedral is dedicated. Look to the shining testimony of your native-born saints; of Saint Zdislava, mother of a family, rich in works of religion and works of mercy; of Saint John Sarkander, priest and martyr; of Saint Clement Maria Hofbauer, priest and religious, born in this diocese and canonized one hundred years ago, and of Blessed Restituta Kafkova, a religious sister born in Brno and killed by the Nazis in Vienna. May you always be accompanied and protected by Our Lady, Mother of Christ our Hope. Amen!”