By Christopher Wells
World Mission Day “is a good opportunity for every baptized person to become more aware of the need to cooperate in proclaiming the Kingdom of God through a renewed commitment”, Pope Francis said at the Angelus on Sunday.
The Holy Father reflected on a passage from the second Reading in the Mass of the Day: “Preach the Word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction”, taken from St Paul’s Second Letter to St Timothy. “The tone is heartfelt,” Pope Francis said. “Timothy must feel responsible for the proclamation of the Word”.
A new impetus
He referred back to the Apostolic Letter Maximum illud, promulgated by Pope Benedict XV, which gave a “new impetus to the missionary responsibility of the whole Church”. Pope Francis said that, “in today’s changed context, Benedict XV’s message is still relevant and stimulates us to overcome the temptation of any self-referential closure and any form of pastoral pessimism, in order to open ourselves to the joyful novelty of the Gospel”.
Pope Francis said that this means “hearing strongly the call to the mission towards all peoples and towards all those who, here among us, live on the margins”. He warned that living fraternity “only in our own closed circle means to suffocate the Spirit, who unites us to proclaim to all that Christ is our peace and in Him every division is overcome, in Him alone there is the salvation of every person and all peoples”.
Prayer, the indispensable condition for mission
He then reminded us of the “indispensable condition” for “living the mission to the full”, namely, prayer “a fervent and incessant prayer, according to the teaching of Jesus proclaimed in today's Gospel as well, in which He tells a parable on the need to ‘pray always, and not give up’”, the Pope said. “Prayer, he continued, “is the first support the People of God can give missionaries”.
World Mission Day, he said, “is also a good occasion to ask ourselves, Do I pray for missionaries? Do I pray for those who go far away to bring the Word of God with their witness?”
Pope Francis concluded his reflection with the prayer that “Mary, Mother of all nations, might accompany and protect the missionaries of the Gospel every day”.