There’s a formula in broadcast news. An anchor tries to hook us with a teaser. They then turn to a colleague. “You are on the scene. Tell us what you are hearing.” The most effective reporters highlight the impact on the life and concerns of a viewer. Pope Francis seems to instinctively do the same.
Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of Mission.
His headline is “We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20)
First, he reminds us of the broad outline of the story of the God who literally became one of us.
“The story of God’s passionate desire to call and enter into friendly dialogue with everyone, just as they are (cf. Jn 15:12-17).”
Pope Francis presents the scene where the story unfolded
“The Apostles “remembered even the day and the hour when they first met him: “It was about four o’clock in the afternoon” (Jn 1:39). Experiencing the Lord’s friendship, watching him cure the sick, dine with sinners, feed the hungry, draw near to the outcast, touch the unclean, identify with the needy, propose the Beatitudes and teach in a new and authoritative way, left an indelible mark on them.”
Francis then fast forwards to the story as it developed in the years after Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and gift of his spirit.
“… things were not always easy. The first Christians began the life of faith amid hostility and hardship. Experiences of marginalization and imprisonment combined with internal and external struggles that seemed to contradict and even negate what they had seen and heard.”
“Yet, rather than a difficulty or an obstacle leading them to step back or close in on themselves, those experiences impelled them to turn problems, conflicts and difficulties into opportunities for mission. “ … “The Book of Acts teaches us to endure hardship by clinging firmly to Christ, in order to grow in the “conviction that God is able to act in any circumstance, even amid apparent setbacks” and in the certainty that “all those who entrust themselves to God will bear good fruit” (Evangelii Gaudium, 279).
Our times are not easy either
We face pandemics and polarization, misunderstanding, hostility, and persecution.
“As Christians, we cannot keep the Lord to ourselves.
“The theme of this year’s World Mission Day – “We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20), is a summons to each of us to “own” and to bring to others what we bear in our hearts.
“Our life of faith grows weak, loses its prophetic power and its ability to awaken amazement and gratitude when we become isolated and withdraw into little groups. By its very nature, the life of faith calls for a growing openness to embracing everyone, everywhere.
“Today too Jesus needs hearts capable of experiencing vocation as a true love story that urges them to go forth to the peripheries of our world as messengers and agents of compassion. He addresses this call to everyone, and in different ways. We can think of the peripheries all around us, in the heart of our cities or our own families.
“It is important to grow in our daily ability to widen our circle, to reach out to others who, albeit physically close to us, are not immediately part of our “circle of interests” (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 97).
“To be on mission is to be willing to think as Christ does, to believe with him that those around us are also my brothers and sisters. “
Do we remember
- “our encounters” with the Jesus who reveals God’s love?
- “our mission” to the peripheries in our cities and families?
Click below for an audio version of the Vincentian Mindwalk