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Pope Francis celebrates Mass on World Mission Day in 2019 Pope Francis celebrates Mass on World Mission Day in 2019 

Pope's Mission Day message: Every Christian a witness to Christ in daily life

Pope Francis releases his message for World Mission Day 2022, celebrated on 23 October, and urges all Christians to proclaim Christ’s message of salvation in every aspect of our daily lives.

By Devin Watkins

Ever since 1926, the Church has celebrated World Mission Day, which falls in 2022 on 23 October.

As the Church marks the Epiphany on Thursday, Pope Francis released his message for the occurrence focused on the theme: “You shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).

‘You shall be my witnesses’

The Pope reflected on three foundations of “the life and mission of every disciple”. The first, he said, is “the call of every Christian to bear witness to Christ,” calling it the “heart of Jesus’ teaching to the disciples.”

Pope Francis said Christ was the first to be sent to proclaim, as the Father’s missionary and as His “faithful witness.”

“Every Christian is called to be a missionary and witness to Christ. And the Church, the community of Christ’s disciples, has no other mission than that of bringing the Gospel to the entire world by bearing witness to Christ. To evangelize is the very identity of the Church.”

Living in a missionary key

The Pope said each baptized Christian is called to carry out the Church’s mission in a communitarian way, even in the ordinary activities of our daily lives.

Christians, he added, are sent on mission by the Church in Christ’s name, and never under our own initiative. He noted that Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs, since “the witness of Christians to Christ is primarily communitarian in nature.”

“The disciples are urged to live their personal lives in a missionary key: they are sent by Jesus to the world not only to carry out, but also and above all to live the mission entrusted to them; not only to bear witness, but also and above all to be witnesses of Christ.”

Missionaries, said Pope Francis, proclaim the Good News of God’s salvation in Christ, not their own abilities or persuasive qualities.

“In evangelization,” he added, “the example of a Christian life and the proclamation of Christ are inseparable. One is at the service of the other.”

‘To the ends of the earth’

Pope Francis went on to consider a second foundation of the Christian mission: “to the ends of the earth.”

He said the early disciples gradually expanded the scope of their mission, and lived an image of the Church “going forth” and guided by divine Providence, not the desire to proselytize.

As they faced persecution, early Christians fled their homelands, taking the Gospel with them to new countries, something which happens in our own day.

Pope Francis added that the phrase “to the ends of the earth” also challenges modern Christians to proclaim Christ to those who have still not encountered Him.

“Christ’s Church will continue to “go forth” towards new geographical, social and existential horizons, towards “borderline” places and human situations, in order to bear witness to Christ and His love to men and women of every people, culture and social status.”

‘Power from the Holy Spirit’

The Pope then turned to the third foundation of mission: “You will receive power from the Holy Spirit”.

He said the Spirit broke the bonds of the Apostles’ fear in the first days after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The Spirit prompted St. Peter to give his missionary address to people in Jerusalem, as recounted in Acts, kicking off an “an era in which the disciples of Jesus evangelized the world.”

Pope Francis added that Christians are only able to bear “full and genuine witness to Christ the Lord with the Spirit’s inspiration and assistance.

“All Christ’s missionary disciples are called to recognize the essential importance of the Spirit’s work, to dwell in his presence daily and to receive His unfailing strength and guidance. Indeed, it is precisely when we feel tired, unmotivated or confused that we should remember to have recourse to the Holy Spirit in prayer.”

Prayer, said the Pope, plays an important role in the missionary life, since it “allows us to be refreshed and strengthened by the Spirit as the inexhaustible divine source of renewed energy and joy in sharing Christ’s life with others.”

Notable missionary anniversaries

Pope Francis then said that 2022 sees several notable anniversaries in the Church’s missionary spirit.

The first is the 400th anniversary since the establishment of the Sacred Congregation De Propaganda Fide, now the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

This year also marks the 200th anniversary of the foundation of Society for the Propagation of the Faith by a young French woman, Pauline Jaricot, who will be beatified in 2022.

Pope St. Paul VI granted the Society the status of “Pontifical” 100 years ago, along with the Association of the Holy Childhood and the Society of Saint Peter the Apostle.

Pope Francis prayed that the local Churches will “find in these Societies a sure means for fostering the missionary spirit among the People of God.”

New era of Christian mission

In conclusion, the Pope expressed his dream to see a “completely missionary Church, and a new era of missionary activity among Christian communities.”

“Would that all of us in the Church were what we already are by virtue of baptism: prophets, witnesses, missionaries of the Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the ends of the earth! Mary, Queen of the Missions, pray for us!”

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06 January 2022, 10:17