extraordinary missionary month
His Holiness, Pope Francis, has asked the whole Church to revive her missionary awareness and commitment to commemorate the centenary of the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud of Pope Benedict XV (30 November 1919), through the observance of an Extraordinary Missionary Month throughout October 2019. The theme: Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World.
The Holy Father makes an explicit request to each and every one of us, “Celebrating this month will help us first to rediscover the missionary dimension of our faith in Jesus Christ, a faith graciously bestowed on us in baptism. Our filial relationship with God is not something simply private, but always in relation to the Church. Through our communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we, together with so many of our other brothers and sisters, are born to new life… a treasure to be given, communicated and proclaimed: that is the meaning of mission. We received this gift freely and we share it freely (cf. Mt10:8), without excluding anyone. God wills that all people be saved by coming to know the truth and experiencing his mercy through the ministry of the Church, the universal sacrament of salvation (cf. 1 Tim 2:4; Lumen Gentium, 48)”
Full text of the Pope’s message at: http://www.october2019.va/en/messaggio-giornata-missionaria-2019.html
In a separate message, to Cardinal Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Holy Father adds this appeal, “In these, our troubled times, rent by the tragedies of war and menaced by the baneful tendency to accentuate differences and to incite conflict, may the Good News that in Jesus forgiveness triumphs over sin, life defeats death and love conquers fear, be proclaimed to the world with renewed fervour, and instil trust and hope in everyone.”
Suitable material, guidelines, news and updates are available at: http://www.october2019.va/en.html
For the downloadable PDF from the site: Click here.
when your only begotten Son Jesus Christ
rose from the dead, he commissioned his followers
to “go and make disciples of all nations”
and you remind us that through our Baptism
we are made sharers in the mission of the Church.
Empower us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit
to be courageous and zealous
in bearing witness to the Gospel,
so that the mission entrusted to the Church,
which is still very far from completion,
may find new and efficacious expressions
that bring life and light to the world.
Help us make it possible for all peoples
to experience the saving love
and mercy of Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever.
During this Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019, the Holy Father wishes us to understand, in its fullness, our ‘missionary’ calling as individuals and as Church – the body of Christ. In mission, we carry Christ to others in word and deed, but we can do so only when we know, understand and love Christ intimately. This union – our personal encounter - with Christ, is enabled through the Eucharist, the Word of God, Personal and Communal Prayer. Then, we can rightfully say, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2:20).
If there is one thing that defines those we recognise as saints, it is 'passion'. They are persons who are passionately in love with Christ, evidenced by the radical change of direction in their lives. Just reading about them inspires us to the higher ideal - Why are we here? What is it that we are called to do? And what will our answer be? Are we called to travel distances, carry the Gospel to strange lands, struggle against impossible odds, suffer indescribable hardships? Perhaps. But more importantly, we are called to give testimony where we are, living the Gospel through even the most ordinary lives - testimony that leads others to do likewise: “For the love of Christ impels us...so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.” (cfr 2 Cor 5: 14-16).
We reach out to the less fortunate in ways that we know how: organising fund raisers, donating our resources and time. But do we really understand ‘why’?
‘Mission’ involves mind, heart and body, in that order: a mind to know and understand the teaching of Christ and the Church; a heart so that love drives the reason; body – hands and feet that willingly go forward to do what needs to be done. We cannot love what we do not know and if we do not love, we will not be motivated to act! This is why formation in faith is mandatory to mission. When we are rooted in the Scriptures and teachings of the Church, we will be fully involved: formed, sent forth, forming others, in turn, to carry Christ's mission forward.
A loving heart is a giving heart. When you love someone, deeply, truly, no sacrifice is too great to make that person happy, not just once, twice but all the time. And the cost is never counted. On the other hand, it’s hard to love a stranger, someone we have only heard of but have never met or interacted with. So, when we are asked to contribute to the Missions, it is easy to put money in an envelope and depend on an agency to pass it on. But our Church, as Pope Francis tells us, is not an NGO. While the necessary funds are certainly met through our generosity, it is the ‘giving heart’ that matters more – a living engagement to lift others out of their need and into their own self-respect. And it is a continuing mission, till there is no one left in want.