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Expanding my concept of mission

I grew up with a mid 20th century understanding of “missions”. Each year we celebrated Mission Sunday with a report on the number of Catholics in all the countries of the world. Then there followed the appeal to support missionaries in foreign lands.

We were told not to forget the “home missions” those large sections of the country where Catholics were few and “the church’ was fragile.

Basically, we were asked to pray for and support those who gave their lives to “the missions”

Then came Vatican II and the concept of the Church as missionary.

The future Pope Benedict was instrumental in Vatican II’s renewal of this understanding.

“2. The pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature since it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she draws her origin.”

Everyone in a missionary church is called to be a missionary.

Now Pope Francis adds a new wrinkle

In his Message for Mission Sunday 2020 (10/18) he wrote

  • In this year marked by the suffering and challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the missionary journey of the whole Church continues.
  • “Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.
  • In this context, the call to mission, the invitation to step out of ourselves for love of God and neighbor 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.

He continues

  • 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?
  • Understanding what God is saying to us at this time of pandemic also represents a challenge for the Church’s mission.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The celebration of World Mission Day is also an occasion for reaffirming how prayer, reflection, and the material help of your offerings are so many opportunities to participate actively in the mission of Jesus in his Church.

St Vincent de Paul

St.Vincent did not use these words, but in his early middle years, he committed himself to following Christ the Evangelizer (missionary) bringing good news to those suffering in body and soul. He even founded a “little company” of those who committed themselves to such missionary activity. He succeeded in engaging people from all walks of life in these missionary activities.

Are we ready…

  • To listen to the call of mission in our daily life?
  • To serve the church’s mission and the challenge of illness, suffering, fear, and isolation?

Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk

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