Where we sit is important to us. In church, we usually want to sit in the same place; we feel comfortable there. At a concert, or a play, or some game, we like tickets in the “best seats in the house”. At Papal audiences in Rome, pilgrims always try to position themselves along the railing so that they can get a few feet from the Holy Father as he passes by. If we are invited to a wedding or a banquet, it’s an honor to be seated near the head table.

In the Gospel today, James and John want good seats at the right and the left of Jesus in His kingdom. They didn’t understand (nor did they want to hear about) the suffering that Jesus would go through before any kind of glory was revealed. Knowing their thoughts, Jesus told His apostles that those who want to be identified with Him in glory also have to be identified with Him in his mission and share in His suffering. Jesus told James and John that what matters is fidelity to the mission – fixing our eyes, as well as our efforts, on the goal – not on where we will be sitting when the kingdom comes!

Today’s Gospel then, is not about sitting at all – it is about standing! James and John were concerned about where they will sit in the kingdom. Jesus explained that it is not about where anyone sits that counts – but rather for what, and with whom they stand.

Jesus suffered and died because He stood against individuals and structures which opposed the message of the Kingdom. The question Jesus poses to each of us today is not where any of us will eventually sit; but rather: where we stand now; what we stand for now! And most important if we are even standing for anything at all!

We have been baptized into the life of Jesus Christ. At this Mass and at every Mass, we join ourselves with the redemptive suffering of Jesus. Through Baptism, we were invited to share in Jesus’ life, Jesus’ pain, and Jesus’ mission.

In the second reading today, St. Paul encourages us to “Hold fast to our confession of Faith.” We are called to remain faithful to our vocation to “Proclaim the Word of God – to be persistent in the Faith whether it is convenient or inconvenient

As we celebrate “World Mission Sunday,” this weekend, we not only take up a special collection for the missions, but also we are reminded of our responsibility to be missionaries through our prayers, our good works and our finances. We celebrate today, our common vocation to preach and proclaim Christ throughout the world. We are reminded of our Baptismal obligation to give of ourselves in sacrifice, in union with Jesus, for the Redemption of all the world.

When we think of serving the missionary work of the Church, it seems natural to picture some missionary who responds to the call of Christ to leave home and family, to be sent to bring the Gospel to nations and people in far distant countries.

I always think of Father Carl Schmidt (a Passionist priest from Ohio) who was ministering to the poor on the Philippine Island of Mindanao. He heard a knock of the door at midnight and was shot in the face by the military because he was ministering to the poor in the mountains. Then there was a Sister from Alabama teaching refugee Children in war-torn Sudan who was raped and murdered by the people she was serving.

On Monday, we celebrated the feast of the North American Martyrs – John deBrebuff and their companions – all slain because of their missionary activity in what is now the United States and Canada. What is remarkable about these Missionaries, is the fact that after being tortured and hospitalized back in Europe, (Isaac Jogues had his thumbs chewed off, and his hands broken) he requested special permission from the pope to celebrate Mass in this mutilated condition, they returned to their missionary locations to face sure death.

It is natural to think of them first, because these life-time Missionaries are indispensable to the Mission of the Church. Certainly not everyone is called to set out on mission in foreign lands, but we are called to make our faith known and felt beyond our home and family, beyond parish boundaries and our neighborhoods, beyond our work-place and our daily lives. We are all “sent”, by reason of our baptism to bring the Gospel to others.

Pope John Paul II reminded us that the missionary activity is not a “marginal task” for the Church, but rather, it is at the very center of the Church’s life as a “fundamental commitment of the whole people of God.” What counts is that our hearts burn with that same divine charity of our formal missionaries which is able to transform the entire Church.

Most of us are called to be missionaries in the way of “prayer and sacrifice” the personal sacrifice of offering our sufferings to God, in union with the suffering of Christ, for His work of Redemption, and financial sacrifice in support of those serving in the mission fields.

Today, on this “World Mission Sunday”, we have the opportunity to participate in the missionary work of the Church by offering our prayers and our support in the special collection, we will affect the lives of faith of people in countries throughout the world – as well as in the Home Missions of our own country. We will also share in the hardships and the joys of missionaries throughout the world.

On this World Mission Sunday, we have the opportunity to help fill the greatest needs of those who serve in the mission diocese’s: as they announce the Gospel, as they prepare man and women for Baptism and for the banquet of the Eucharist, and as they serve in education, health care and social programs among the poorest of our human family.

Today Christ asks each baptized person – each of us: “Will you by My witness?” Each one of us is invited to question himself or herself sincerely; “Do I offer the world the witness the Lord asks of Me? Do I have a missionary spirit? Do I live a strong, serene and joyful faith, or do I portray the image of a Christian life that is marred by compromises and easy conformity?” How do I measure up to my missionary call?