TOGETHER WITH YOUNG PEOPLE, LET US BRING THE GOSPEL TO ALL – Pope Francis’ Message for World Mission Sunday 2018

The universal Church has, through the past decades, paid particular importance to the month of October, the month of the missions par excellence.

World Mission Sunday in 2018 falls on Oct. 21. This annual celebration encourages prayers, cooperation and help for missions as well as reminding Christians about the fundamental missionary character of the Church and of every baptized person.  The theme of the Message that Pope Francis sent for the occasion is in line with the theme of the Synod of Bishops focusing on Youth: “Together with young people, let us bring the Gospel to all”. In the message, Pope Francis remarks: 

1. “I am a mission” Pope Francis reminds us 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.”

2. “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”? Then, the Pope challenges the youth to follow in the steps of great witnesses and martyrs, among whom some were youth. “Many men and women and many young people have generously sacrificed themselves, even at times to martyrdom, out of love for the Gospel and service to their brothers and sisters. From the cross of Jesus, we learn the divine logic of self-sacrifice” Witness, thus, implies the carrying of the cross by giving one’s own life for the good of others, putting one’s own energies for the good of the people, particularly for those most poor and abandoned.

3. “Transmitting faith” 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. It is expected that the transmission of faith of the youth passes through bringing the values of the Gospel into the society in which they live, facing the tide of society that might be led by counter values.

4. “Bearing witness to loveThe heart of the Church’s mission, the Pope continues, is the infectiousness of love, where joy and enthusiasm become the expression of a new found meaning and fulfillment 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.

Finally, after recalling the contribution of the Pontifical Mission Societies and of many ecclesial groups such as parishes, associations, movements, religious communities and young people for the mission Ad Gentes “to the ends of the earth,” the Pope insists that those 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, concluding: “Never think that you have nothing to offer, or that nobody needs you. Many people need you. Each of you, think in your heart: many people need me.”


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