This Sunday marks WORLD MISSION DAY 2013.  Pope Francis has written a message to help us in our prayer and reflection on the meaning of mission in our Christian lives.

Aware that this year we are celebrating WORLD MISSION DAY during the Year of Faith, the pope reminds us that faith is such that if “we  want to keep it only to ourselves, we will become isolated, sterile and sick Christians”.  Faith of its nature has to be shared or it withers.  Maybe that is one of the reasons why faith is so weak these days.

Pope Francis talks about “broadening the boundaries of faith”.  By this he means that mission is not to be understood in territorial terms only but the gift of mission touches every human heart.  He emphasises that our faith commitment “is not complete unless it aims at bearing witness to Christ before the nations and before all peoples”.

Recognising various obstacles to mission, lack of fervour, joy, courage and hope” the pope calls for enthusiasm and respect in our missionary lives.  We are not alone in this vocation as missionaries: “Evangelization is not an isolated individual or private act; it is always ecclesial”.  We are all One Body, One Spirit in Christ.

The Church has become very aware of the need for mission at home: even in long settled Christian cultures, many take Christianity for granted and it makes little or no impact on their lives.  Hence the need for a “New Evangelization”.  It is the Holy Spirit who guides the Church in this path.

Finally Pope Francis invites even the poorest and weakest of local churches to be daring and missionary: “sending missionaries is  never a loss, but a gain”.  This is an insight we need to explore.  We have greatly benefited from being a “receiving Church”; we would also greatly benefit from being a “sending Church”.

Our support of the Pontifical Mission Societies today is one small way in which we can signal our missionary enthusiasm.

Fr Sean Wales, C.Ss.R.


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