By Robin Gomes
The Vatican on Saturday released the message of Pope Francis for this year’s World Mission Sunday, in which the Pontiff is inviting young men and women who want to follow Christ, to seek, to discover and to persevere in their vocation.
Observed by the Catholic Church on the penultimate Sunday of October every year, World Mission Sunday in 2018 falls on Oct. 21. Instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1926, the annual day encourages prayers, cooperation and help for missions as well as reminds Christians about the fundamental missionary character of the Church and of every baptized person.
The theme of this year’s observance, “Together with young people, let us bring the Gospel to all,” echoes the upcoming synod of bishops, scheduled from October 3-28 in the Vatican, whose theme is “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.”
I am a mission
In the message addressed to all Christians, but especially to young people, the Pope reminds all that “we are not in this world by our own choice,” and hence there is “an initiative that precedes us and makes us exist.” Each one of us, he says, is called to reflect on the fact that ‘ I am a mission on this Earth,” which is why we are here in this world.
In fact, the Pope says, “every man and woman is a mission.” “To be attracted and to be sent are two movements” of the heart that “hold out promise for our future and give direction to our lives.”
Gift of self
In his message, the Pope urges young people not to be afraid of Christ and his Church, because, he says, “it is where “we find the treasure that fills life with joy.”
Speaking from his own experience, he says that through faith he found the sure foundation of his dreams and the strength to realize them.
“For those who stand by Jesus,” the Pope continues, “evil is an incentive to ever greater love,” because “from the cross of Jesus we learn the divine logic of self-sacrifice as a proclamation of the Gospel for the life of the world.
The Pope thus invites young people to ask themselves, “What would Christ do if he were in my place?”
All Christians by Baptism, the Pope recalls, have received the mission to bring the Gospel to everyone. Young people too are part of that great stream of witnesses, in which elder persons with their wisdom and experience become a witness and encouragement to the young. This way, he says, the mission of the Church bridges the generations bringing about unity.
The heart of the Church’s mission, the Pope continues, is the infectiousness of love, where joy and enthusiasm become the expression of a newfound meaning and fulfilment in life. The spread of the faith “by attraction”, he says, calls for hearts that are open and expanded by love. This generates encounter, witness and proclamation even in “extreme peripheries” which are indifferent and hostile and to the ends of the earth in ‘missio ad gentes’.
The Holy Father expresses satisfaction that through numerous ecclesial groups such as parishes, associations, movements, and religious communities, young people find in missionary volunteer work a way of serving the “least” of our brothers and sisters, promoting human dignity and witnessing to the joy of love and of being Christian.
After recalling the contribution of the Pontifical Mission Societies to the human and cultural growth of many populations, the Pope says that who are helped in their personal needs can in turn bear witness to the Gospel in the circumstances of their daily lives.
“No one is so poor as to be unable to give what they have, but first and foremost what they are,” the Pope says.