06/02/2020, 15.43
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Pope: World Mission Sunday in the year of the pandemic

The Message for the World Mission Sunday, which will be celebrated on October 18 in most countries, has as its title the response of the prophet Isaiah: "Here I am, send me.” "It is Christ who makes the Church go out of herself." The personal response. "Illness, suffering, fear and isolation", unemployment that are spreading with the coronavirus epidemic "challenge us".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis' message for the 2020 World Mission Sunday, which will be celebrated on 18 October, rests on two pillars. The first is the answer that the prophet Isaiah gives to Yahweh when He asks: “Who am I going to send?”, And Isaiah replies: "Here I am, send me" (Is 6,8).

The second pillar is “understanding what God is saying to us at this time of pandemic also represents a challenge for the Church’s mission".

The Message, which bears the date of Pentecost, May 31, 2020, has the answer of Isaiah as its title: "Here I am, send me". "This call - explains the Pope - from God’s merciful heart challenges both the Church and humanity as a whole in the current world crisis."

“We are indeed frightened, disoriented and afraid. Pain and death make us experience our human frailty, but at the same time remind us of our deep desire for life and liberation from evil. In this context, the call to mission, the invitation to step out of ourselves for love of God and neighbour presents itself as an opportunity for sharing, service and intercessory prayer. The mission that God entrusts to each one of us leads us from fear and introspection to a renewed realization that we find ourselves precisely when we give ourselves to others."

Of course, " Jesus is the Father’s Missionary: his life and ministry reveal his total obedience to the Father’s will (cf. Jn 4:34; 6:38; 8:12-30; Heb 10:5-10). Jesus, crucified and risen for us, draws us in turn into his mission of love, and with his Spirit which enlivens the Church, he makes us his disciples and sends us on a mission to the world and to its peoples.

“The mission, the ‘Church on the move’, is not a programme, an enterprise to be carried out by sheer force of will. It is Christ who makes the Church go out of herself. In the mission of evangelization, you move because the Holy Spirit pushes you, and carries you.”

The Church is therefore a continuation of Christ's mission: “The Church, the universal sacrament of God’s love for the world, continues the mission of Jesus in history and sends us everywhere so that, through our witness of faith and the proclamation of the Gospel, God may continue to manifest his love and in this way touch and transform hearts, minds, bodies, societies and cultures in every place and time."

Mission "is a free and conscious response to God’s call. Yet we discern this call only when we have a personal relationship of love with Jesus present in his Church."

To help with a personal response, the pontiff lists a series of questions: “et us ask ourselves: are we prepared to welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, to listen to the call to mission, whether in our life as married couples or as consecrated persons or those called to the ordained ministry, and in all the everyday events of life? Are we willing to be sent forth at any time or place to witness to our faith in God the merciful Father, to proclaim the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ, to share the divine life of the Holy Spirit by building up the Church? Are we, like Mary, the Mother of Jesus, ready to be completely at the service of God’s will (cf. Lk 1:38)? This interior openness is essential if we are to say to God: “Here am I, Lord, send me” (cf. Is 6:8)."

The answer, Francis suggests, must take place "today of the Church and of history". This is why it is important to ask ourselves "what God is telling us in these pandemic times", because this "becomes a challenge also for the mission of the Church.  Illness, suffering, fear and isolation challenge us. The poverty of those who die alone, the abandoned, those who have lost their jobs and income, the homeless and those who lack food challenge us. Being forced to observe social distancing and to stay at home invites us to rediscover that we need social relationships as well as our communal relationship with God."

"Far from increasing mistrust and indifference, this situation should make us even more attentive to our way of relating to others. And prayer, in which God touches and moves our hearts, should make us ever more open to the need of our brothers and sisters for dignity and freedom, as well as our responsibility to care for all creation. The impossibility of gathering as a Church to celebrate the Eucharist has led us to share the experience of the many Christian communities that cannot celebrate Mass every Sunday. In all of this, God’s question: “Whom shall I send?” is addressed once more to us and awaits a generous and convincing response: “Here am I, send me!” (Is 6:8). God continues to look for those whom he can send forth into the world and to the nations to bear witness to his love, his deliverance from sin and death, his liberation from evil (cf. Mt 9:35-38; Lk 10:1-12)."

In conclusion, the pope urges to contribute to the mission of the Church with prayer, reflection and material help: “The charity expressed in the collections that take place during the liturgical celebrations of the third Sunday of October is aimed at supporting the missionary work carried out in my name by the Pontifical Mission Societies, in order to meet the spiritual and material needs of peoples and Churches throughout the world, for the salvation of all.

May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization and Comforter of the Afflicted, missionary disciple of her Son Jesus, continue to intercede for us and sustain us."

For the full text of the Message, see here.

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