Jesus Commanded It: Announce the Gospel
Missionary Intention: That World Mission Day may renew within all Christian communities the joy of the Gospel and the responsibility to announce it.
World Mission Day, which we celebrate annually on the penultimate Sunday of October, was started by Pope Pius XI in 1926 as a day of prayer for missions.
Pope Francis places this year’s World Mission Day in the context of the Year of Mercy. He writes that “the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which the Church is celebrating, casts a distinct light on World Mission Sunday 2016: it invites us to consider the missio ad gentes as a great, immense work of mercy, both spiritual and material”.
We are all invited, he continues, “to ‘go out’ as missionary disciples, each generously offering their talents, creativity, wisdom and experience in order to bring the message of God’s tenderness and compassion to the entire human family”.
He uses several very feminine images in his message, for example: “When speaking of the womb, the Bible uses the word that signifies mercy: therefore it refers to the love of a mother for her children, whom she will always love, in every circumstance and regardless of what happens, because they are the fruit of her womb.”
This all sounds very beautiful, but Pope Francis knows that it will mean reaching beyond ourselves. Referring to his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), he writes that “all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the ‘peripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel”.
Where are these “peripheries”? Most of us are unlikely to go and preach the Gospel in China, as a young South African member of my congregation has recently done. But “peripheries” may actually be geographically quite close — estranged members of one’s family or difficult, cranky neighbours, or people cut off from human contact because of sickness or poverty or some other kind of alienation.
Before the conclave, Pope Francis gave a four-minute address which some observers believe got him elected. In it he stressed the need to build a Church which would cease to be self absorbed and would go out on mission to the non-geographical “existential peripheries”, to those “places” where we find sin, pain, injustice, ignorance, misery and indifference to religion.
The “peripheries” are all around us, if we but look and listen carefully, and that is where we are called to go and proclaim the Good News.
For a brief monthly video message from the pope on one of his intentions go to www.thepopevideo.org