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Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!

World Mission Sunday 2015 poster
World Mission Sunday 2015 poster

World Mission Sunday is celebrated every every year in every country wherever there are Catholics committed to building a better world for all of God’s people, a world where everyone has all they need to live to live dignified and fulfilling life.  It is a day on which we reflect on the urgency to proclaim the Gospel in our times.  This year it falls on Oct 18.

Missionary activity is a response to the love with which God loves us.  God’s love is the spiritual energy that can make harmony. justice and communion grow among persons, races and peoples for which everyone is searching.  It is God, who is Love, who leads the Church towards those farthest away, and calls us to be renewed from the original source, Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God.

Pope Francis, in his message given on the Feast of Pentecost, May 2015, to mark the 89th World Mission Sunday, says that because the 2015 World Mission Sunday takes place in the context of the Year for Consecrated Life, it provides a further stimulus for prayer and reflection.  “For if every baptised person is called to bear witness to the Lord Jesus by proclaiming the faith received as a gift, this is especially so for each consecrated man and woman.  There is a clear connection between consecrated life and mission,” he says.

The desire to follow Jesus closely, which led to the emergence of consecrated life in the Church responds to his call to take up the cross and follow him, to imitate his dedication to the Father and his service and love, to lose our life so as to gain it.  Since Christ’s entire existence had a missionary character, so too, all those who follow him closely must possess this missionary quality.

“Being a missionary is not about proselytizing or mere strategy; mission is part of the “grammar” of faith, something essential for those who listen to the voice of the Spirit who whispers “Come” and “Go forth.”  Those who follow Christ cannot fail to be missionaries, for they know that Jesus “walks with them, speaks with them, breathes with them.  They sense Jesus alive with them in the midst of the missionary enterprise.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 266).

“Mission is a passion for Jesus and at the same time a passion for his people. When we pray before Jesus crucifies, we see the depth of his love which gives us dignity and sustains us.  At the same time we realise that the love flowing from Jesus’ pierced heart expands to embrace the People of God and all humanity. We realise once more that he wants to make use of us to draw closer to his beloved people (EG, 268) and all those who seek him with a sincere heart in Jesus’ command to “go forth,” we see the scenarios and ever present new challenges of the Church’s evangelising mission.  All her members are called to proclaim the Gospel by their witness of life.  In a particular way, consecrated men and women are asked to listen to the voice of the Spirit who calls them to go to the peripheries, to those to whom the Gospel has not yet been proclaimed.

“The fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s decree  Ad Gentes an invitation to all of us to reread this document and to reflect on its contents.  The decree calls for a powerful missionary impulse in Institutes of Consecrated Life.  Hence, there is an urgent need to reaffirm that the central ideal of mission is Jesus Christ, and that this ideal demands the total gift of oneself to the proclamation of the Gospel.  On this point there can be no compromise: those who by God’s grace accept the mission, are called to live the mission.  For them, the proclamation of Christ in the many peripheries of the world becomes their way of following him, one which more than repays them for the many difficulties and sacrifices they make.”  (The full text is published in your Oct 18 Catholic Sabah.)

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