This year’s World Mission Day was be celebrated on Sunday the 22nd October 22, under the theme “Mission at the heart of the Christian faith”. In his message, Pope Francis asked ‘What is the basis of our mission? What is the heart of our mission? What are the essential approaches we need to take in carrying out our mission?’. Here is synthesis of his message..
Pope Francis said that “The Church’s mission, directed to all men and women of good will, is based on the transformative power of the Gospel. The Gospel is good news filled with contagious joy, for it contains and offers new life – the life of the Risen Christ who, by bestowing his life-giving Spirit, becomes for us the Way, the Truth and the Life (cf. Jn 14:6). He is the way, who invites us to follow him with confidence and courage. In following Jesus as our way, we experience truth and receive his life, which is fullness of communion with God, the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit. That life sets us free from every kind of selfishness, and is a source of creativity in love.”
In this way, “The Church’s mission, then, is not to spread a religious ideology, much less to propose a lofty ethical teaching. Through the mission of the Church, Jesus Christ himself continues to evangelize and act. Her mission thus makes present in history the kairos, the favourable time of salvation..”.
In his message, the Pope pointed out that “The world vitally needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through the Church, Christ continues his mission as the Good Samaritan, caring for the bleeding wounds of humanity, and as Good Shepherd, constantly seeking out those who wander along winding paths that lead nowhere”.
The Pope continued “Thank God, many significant experiences continue to testify to the transformative power of the Gospel. I think of the gesture of the Dinka student who, at the cost of his own life, protected a student from the enemy Nuer tribe who was about to be killed. I think of that Eucharistic celebration in Kitgum, in northern Uganda, where, after brutal massacres by a rebel group, a missionary made the people repeat the words of Jesus on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” as an expression of the desperate cry of the brothers and sisters of the crucified Lord. For the people, that celebration was an immense source of consolation and courage. We can think too of countless testimonies to how the Gospel helps to overcome narrowness, conflict, racism, tribalism, and to promote everywhere, and among all, reconciliation, fraternity, and sharing”.
Francis explained that “The Church’s mission impels us to undertake a constant pilgrimage across the various deserts of life, through the different experiences of hunger and thirst for truth and justice. The Church’s mission inspires a sense of constant exile, to make us aware, in our thirst for the infinite, that we are exiles journeying towards our final home, poised between the “already” and “not yet” of the Kingdom of Heaven”.
The Pope mentioned the important role of young people. “They are the hope of mission. The person of Jesus Christ and the Good News he proclaimed continue to attract many young people. They seek ways to put themselves with courage and enthusiasm at the service of humanity”.
Talking about the Pontifical Mission Societies, he said, “Thanks to a profound missionary spirituality, nurtured daily, and a constant commitment to raising missionary awareness and enthusiasm, young people, adults, families, priests, bishops and men and women religious work to develop a missionary heart in everyone. World Mission Day, promoted by the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, is a good opportunity for enabling the missionary heart of Christian communities to join in prayer, testimony of life and communion of goods, in responding to the vast and pressing needs of evangelization”, he said.
Finally, Francis said, in carrying out her mission, the Church must draw inspiration from Mary, Mother of Evangelization. “Moved by the Spirit, she welcomed the Word of life in the depths of her humble faith. May the Virgin Mother help us to say our own ‘yes,’ conscious of the urgent need to make the Good News of Jesus resound in our time”, he concluded.