What is your general mission in life

MESSAGE FROM POPE FRANCIS
FOR WORLD MISSION SUNDAY 2019

 

Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World

 

Dear brothers and sisters,

For the month of October 2019 I have asked the whole Church to live an extraordinary time for mission, around the centenary of the promulgation of the Apostolic Exhortation Maximum illudof Pope Benedict XV. (November 30, 1919) to be committed. The prophetic vision of his apostolic initiative has confirmed to me how important it is even today to renew the missionary commitment of the Church, to align its mission to proclaim the Good News even more closely to the Gospel and to bring the world the salvation of the dead and risen Jesus Christ .

The title of the present message is like the theme of the mission month of October: Baptized and sent: the Church of Christ on Mission in the World. The celebration of this month will help us in the first place to rediscover the missionary meaning of our decision to believe in Jesus Christ, the faith that we received as a gift in baptism through no fault of our own. We belong to God as his children - this never happens individually, but always in the church: from communion with God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - a new life arises together with many other brothers and sisters. And this divine life is not a merchandise for sale - we do not practice proselytism - but a wealth that must be given, communicated, proclaimed: this is the meaning of mission. We received this gift free of charge and we share it free of charge (cf. Mt 10.8) without excluding anyone. God wants all people to be saved by coming to the knowledge of the truth and to the experience of his mercy, thanks to the Church, the all-embracing sacrament of salvation (cf. 1 Tim 2.4; 3.15; Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 48).

The Church is on a mission in the world: Faith in Jesus Christ gives us the right dimension of all things, because he allows us to see the world with the eyes and heart of God; hope opens us to the eternal horizons of divine life in which we truly participate; the love we savor in advance in the sacraments and brotherly love pushes us to the limits of the earth (cf. Wed 5,3; Mt 28,19; Acts 1,8; Rom 10.18). A church that goes to the extreme requires constant and lasting missionary conversion. How many saints, how many women and men of the faith testify to us, show us that this unlimited opening is possible and practicable, this merciful going out as the urgent drive of love and the inherent logic of gift, sacrifice and gratuitousness (cf. 2 Cor 5.14-21)! Whoever proclaims God may be a man of God (cf. Apostolic Letter Maximum illud).

It is a mission that concerns us directly: I am always a mission; you are always a mission; every baptized person is a mission. He who loves sets himself in motion, it drives him out of himself, he is attracted and drawn, he gives himself to the other and forges relationships that give life. Nobody is useless and insignificant to the love of God. Each of us is a mission in the world because we are the fruit of God's love. Even if my father and mother betrayed love through lies, hatred and unfaithfulness, God never withdraws from the gift of life and has always determined every son and daughter to his divine and eternal life (cf. Eph 1,3-6).

This life is communicated to us in baptism: it gives us faith in Jesus Christ, the victor over sin and death, renews us in the image and likeness of God and integrates us into the body of Christ, who is the Church. In this sense, then, baptism is truly necessary for salvation because it ensures that we are always and everywhere sons and daughters in the Father's house, never orphans, strangers or slaves. What is sacramental reality in Christians, the perfection of which is the Eucharist, remains a calling and destiny for every man and woman who awaits conversion and salvation. For baptism is the realized promise of the divine gift which makes man a son or daughter in the son. We are children of our natural parents, but in baptism we are given original fatherhood and true motherhood: whoever does not have the Church as mother, cannot have God as father (cf. St. Cyprian, About the unity of the church, 6).

Our mission is rooted in the fatherhood of God and the motherhood of the Church, because baptism is the mission that Jesus expressed in the Paschal mandate: As the Father sent me, so I send you filled with the Holy Spirit for them Reconciliation of the world (cf. Joh 20,19-23; Mt 28: 16-20). The Christian is responsible for this mission so that their vocation to be children of God and the certainty of their personal dignity and of the value inherent in every human life from conception to natural death may be proclaimed to all. When rampant secularism grows into an explicit and cultural rejection of the active fatherhood of God in our history, it prevents any genuine brotherhood of all people, which is always reflected in mutual respect for the life of everyone. Without the God of Jesus Christ, any difference becomes a hellish threat, making any fraternal welcome and fruitful unity of the human race impossible.

The general destiny for salvation that is offered to us by God in Jesus Christ moved Benedict XV. to demand that all nationalistic and ethnocentric obstinacy, every interference with the preaching of the Gospel by the colonial powers and their economic and military interests be overcome. In his apostolic letter Maximum illud the Pope reminded that the divinely willed universality of the mission of the Church makes it necessary to step out of an exclusive belonging to one's own homeland and one's own ethnic group. Opening up culture and community to the salvific novelty of Jesus Christ requires overcoming any inappropriate ethnic and ecclesiastical introversion. Even today the Church still needs men and women who, by virtue of their baptism, respond generously to the call to leave their homes, their families, their homeland, their language, their local Church. They are sent to the peoples, to the world that has not yet been transformed by the sacraments of Jesus and his holy Church. By proclaiming the word of God, bearing witness to the gospel and celebrating life in the Holy Spirit, they call to repentance, baptize them and offer Christian salvation; They do this with respect for the personal freedom of each and in dialogue with the cultures and religions of the peoples to whom they are sent. The missio ad gentes, which is always necessary for the Church, thus contributes in a fundamental way to the constant process of conversion of all Christians. Faith in the Passover of Jesus, the ecclesiastical mission through baptism, the geographical and cultural departure from oneself and one's home, the need to be saved from sin, and deliverance from personal and social evils require mission to the utmost the earth.

The meeting with the special synod on the churches in Amazonia, determined by Divine Providence, brings me to underline how the mission that Jesus entrusted to us with the gift of his Spirit is still relevant and necessary for these regions and their inhabitants. A new Pentecost opens the gates of the church wide, so that no culture remains closed in itself and no people isolated, but rather be open to the universal communion in faith. Nobody should remain closed in their ego, in the self-centeredness of their ethnic and religious affiliation. The Passover of Jesus breaks the narrow boundaries of worlds, religions and cultures and calls them to grow in respect for the dignity of men and women, towards an ever fuller conversion to the truth of the risen Lord, who gives everyone true life.

The words of Benedict XVI come to me in this context. at the beginning of our meeting of Latin American bishops in Aparecida, Brazil in 2007; I would like to reproduce these words here and make them my own: But what significance did the acceptance of the Christian faith have for the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean? For them it meant getting to know and accepting Christ, Christ, the unknown God whom their ancestors, unknowingly, sought in their rich religious traditions. Christ was the Savior they quietly longed for. It also meant having received with the water of baptism the divine life which made them the adopted children of God; also to have received the Holy Spirit who came to fertilize their cultures by cleansing them and sprouting the innumerable germs and seeds that the Incarnate Word had planted in them, directing them in the ways of the gospel. […] The word of God, when it became flesh in Jesus Christ, also became history and culture. The utopia of giving life to the pre-Columbian religions by separating from Christ and from the universal Church would not be a step forward, but a step backwards. In reality it would be a regression to a historical period anchored in the past "(Address at the opening session, May 13, 2007: Insegnamenti III, 1 [2007], 855-856).

We entrust the mission of the Church to Mary, our Mother. In unity with her Son, she set herself in motion from his incarnation and allowed herself to be fully involved in the mission of Jesus, in a mission that also became her own mission at the foot of the cross: to collaborate as Mother of the Church in the Holy Spirit and to bring forth new sons and daughters of God by faith.

I would like to conclude with a brief word about the Pontifical Mission Societies, which are already in Maximum illud recommended as a missionary tool. The Pontifical Mission Societies express their service to the whole of the Church as a worldwide network that supports the Pope in his missionary commitment with prayer - the soul of mission - and the charitable gifts of Christians around the world. Your contribution helps the Pope to evangelize the particular Churches (work of spreading the faith), to train the local clergy (work of St. Peter the Apostle), to educate children all over the world in a missionary awareness (Children's Mission) and to teach missionary faith of Christians (Pontifical Missionary Association). As I reaffirm my support for these works, I hope that the Extraordinary Missionary Month in October 2019 will help renew your missionary service in my ministry.

I heartily convey my blessings to missionaries and to all who participate in the mission of the Church in any way by virtue of their baptism.

From the Vatican on June 9, 2019, the solemn festival of Pentecost.

 

FRANCIS