Once again this year, World Mission Day 2017 gathers us around the person of Jesus, “the very first and greatest evangelizer” (Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 7), who continually sends us forth to proclaim the Gospel of the love of God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.
This Day invites us to reflect anew on the mission at the heart of the Christian faith. The Church is missionary by nature; otherwise, she would no longer be the Church of Christ, but one group among many others that soon end up serving their purpose and passing away.
So it is important to ask ourselves certain questions about our Christian identity and our responsibility as believers… :
- 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?
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)…
The preaching of the Gospel thus becomes a vital and effective word that accomplishes what it proclaims (cf. Is 55:10-11): Jesus Christ, who constantly takes flesh in every human situation (cf. Jn 1:14).
2) What is the heart of our mission?
The Church’s mission, then, is not to spread a religious ideology, much less to propose a lofty ethical teaching… Through the proclamation of the Gospel, the risen Jesus becomes our contemporary… “His resurrection is not an event of the past; it contains a vital power which has permeated this world. Where all seems to be dead, signs of the resurrection suddenly spring up. It is an irresistible force” (Evangelii Gaudium, 276).
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…
3) What are the essential approaches we need to take in carrying out our mission?
a) Mission inspires a spirituality of constant exodus, pilgrimage, and exile:
The Church’s mission is enlivened by a spirituality of constant exodus. We are challenged “to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel” (Evangelii Gaudium, 20).
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.
Mission reminds the Church that she is not an end unto herself, but a humble instrument and mediation of the Kingdom…
That is why we should prefer “a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security” (ibid., 49).
b) Young people 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.,..
The next Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held in 2018 on the theme, Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, represents a providential opportunity to involve young people in the shared missionary responsibility that needs their rich imagination and creativity.
c) The service of the Pontifical Mission Societies:
The Pontifical Mission Societies are a precious means of awakening in every Christian community a desire to reach beyond its own confines and security in order to proclaim the Gospel to all…
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.
d) We carry out our mission with Mary, Mother of Evangelization
Dear brothers and sisters, in carrying out our mission, let us 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 she obtain for us renewed zeal in bringing to everyone the Good News of the life that is victorious over death. May she intercede for us so that we can acquire the holy audacity needed to discover new ways to bring the gift of salvation to every man and woman.
(Used with permission; published from the Vatican, June 4, 2017, Solemnity of Pentecost)