WelCom February 2020
“Baptised and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World” – Pope Francis Message for World Mission Day 2019.
On Pentecost Sunday last year, Pope Francis announced his message for World Mission Sunday, 20 October 2019. He called on all Catholics and the Church to revive missionary awareness and commitment and ‘giving fresh evangelical impulse to her work, preaching and bringing the world to the Salvation of Jesus Christ’.
Two years earlier, in his message for World Mission Sunday, 22 October 2017, Pope Francis announced an Extraordinary Missionary Month for October 2019, to foster greater awareness of ‘missio ad gentes’ (mission to all peoples) and ‘to animate the missionary transformation of Church life and pastoral activity’.
Cardinal John Dew wrote to archdiocese parishes and schools last December to advise the year 2020 would be dedicated to a Year of Mission. ‘I will be announcing a Year of Mission and plan to officially launch it with a ‘Mission Expo’ in March’, he wrote. ‘All Catholic organisations and people within the Archdiocese and beyond are being invited to participate…to celebrate who we are and how we are missionary disciples in our world today.’
We are all called to Mission
Mission Expo 2020
I would love to see lots of people from our parishes and organisations from around the Archdiocese and beyond coming to our planned Mission Expo days in March this year. The aim is principally to reflect on our Mission – the Mission we all have together as the baptised as daughters and sons of God.
Since his election Pope Francis has been constantly reminding us that ‘every man and woman is a mission; that is the reason for our life on this earth’. Those words come from his message for World Mission Day 2018. He went on to say, ‘You too, by your Baptism have become living members of the Church; together we have received the mission to bring the Gospel to everyone.
‘This transmission of the faith, the heart of the Church’s mission, comes about by the infectiousness of love, where joy and enthusiasm become the expression of a newfound meaning and fulfilment in life. The spread of the faith “by attraction” calls for hearts that are open and expanded by love.
‘The ends of the earth nowadays are quite relative and always easily “navigable”. The digital world – the social networks that are so pervasive and readily available – dissolves borders, eliminates distances and reduces differences. Everything appears within reach, so close and immediate. And yet lacking the sincere gift of our lives, we could well have countless contacts but never share in a true communion of life. To share in the mission to the ends of the earth demands the gift of oneself in the vocation that God, who has placed us on this earth, chooses to give us.’
Our parishes exist for Mission; our schools and colleges exist for Mission; each one of us as members of the Church through Baptism into Jesus Christ exist for Mission. We are all called to make our contribution to the Church and to the world.
In his first Apostolic Exhortation Evangelli Gaudium (November 2013) Pope Francis wrote, ‘In virtue of their Baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples. All the baptised, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelisation, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelisation to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would be passive recipients’ (EG 120).
Nobody can be a member of the Church and be a ‘passive recipient’. Yet, there is a growing culture around the world where some people seem to expect everything is done for them; a kind of consumerist mentality has grown where much is expected and nothing given. I have no hesitation in saying that those who minister in an official capacity ‒ clergy, lay pastoral leaders, and bishops ‒ are called to serve, to work hard, to encounter and dialogue with people, to prepare relevant and inspirational homilies, to serve the sick and dying, to accompany people who struggle and seem to have lost hope.
We are called to serve, there is no question about that. But ALL are called to be involved. That is why we have spent so much time reflecting on Stewardship over recent years and emphasising that all we each have is a gift from God, and therefore we look for ways to give back in gratitude for what we have received from God. Every day we make ‘a disciples’ response’.
Many will remember the words made famous by President John Kennedy at his inauguration on 21 January 1961, when he said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country’. I am sure that has also been quoted and applied to the Church many times. ‘Ask not what your Church can do for you – ask what you can do for your Church.’
Mission Expo 2020 is to help us all to understand and appreciate we all have gifts to offer to the Church and in service to our world, to the society we live in.
American cultural Anthropologist Margaret Mead wrote, ‘Never ever depend on governments or institutions to solve any major problems. All social change comes from the passion of individuals.’ Mission Expo 2020 will help us to realise it is not just the institution of the Church that solves the problems. Change comes from the passion of individuals. In our case, individuals who have prayed and reflected, have pondered and discerned, and who are on fire to live the Gospel.
Remember, every individual, every one of us, is never alone. We are the beloved daughters and sons of God; we are filled with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. God’s favour rests on us.
I look forward to seeing you at Mission Expo 2020.