MISSION SUNDAY IS…..
Mission Sunday is an occasion to celebrate that as a Church we can strengthen our friendship with the Lord and reevaluate our ways in proclaiming with courage the Gospel of Christ Jesus.
Mission Sunday is a celebration because we believe. Faith is a precious gift from God that helps us to open our minds to understand and care. Faith makes us understand that our God wants to be in communion with us that we may participate in his life that we may become better and truly special persons. But this gift has to be accepted. It is generously offered to all, and not only to a few. Everyone need to experience this transformative love of God. It is not a gift to be kept for oneself, lest it becomes insipid and unproductive. It is a gift that grows only when imparted. It is a gift that needs our response. One who answers to this gift becomes a follower of Christ; and a follower of Christ is a witness who enriches the life of the community.
Pope Emeritus Benedict once wrote: “The missionary outreach is a clear sign of maturity of an ecclesial community”. A mature Christian Community worships with joy, cares for each other, and proclaims untiringly the Gospels to the “suburbs” where Christ is not yet known.
Mission Sunday is thanksgiving day. The Year of Faith is meant to revitalize Christian Communities. The missionary spirit of the church is not just about geography but it is about peoples and cultures because the boundaries of faith cross over not only places and human traditions but also the hearts of peoples. All baptized have a mission to be a witness of Christ. It is not just a task, but a way of life. In a world torn by violence, lies and mistakes, believers must always possess the courage and joy of proposing an encounter with Christ and become heralds of his Gospel. And every witnessing must be seen as an ecclesial act. This makes us grateful that an individual believer does not act alone but is part of the one community guided by the Holy Spirit, the Body of Christ.
Mission Sunday recognizes the finger of God at work in the world today. Migration has facilitated in many places the growth of multicultural communities. Migrants from young churches who practice their faith have become missionaries that contribute to the life of Churches of ancient Christianity. They bring freshness and enthusiasm with which they live their faith that renews life and gives hope. They have facilitated a kind of “return” of faith.
Mission Sunday posts a challenge. Pope Francis calls us to remember that there are Christians who meet difficulties in openly practicing their faith, and who endure with apostolic perseverance the many current forms of persecution. Quite a few also risk their lives to remain faithful to the Gospel of Christ. Let our prayers be the assurance of our closeness with them. May the consoling words of Jesus echo: “Take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).
In the end, Pope Francis says: “May this Year of Faith increasingly strengthen our relationship with Christ the Lord, since only in him is there the certitude for looking to the future and the guarantee of an authentic and lasting love. This is my wish for World Mission Day this year. I cordially bless missionaries and all those who accompany and support this fundamental commitment of the Church to proclaim the Gospel to all corners of the earth, and we, ministers and missionaries of the Gospel, will experience ‘the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing.’”
* Excerpts from the Mission Sunday Message of Pope Francis 2013