My dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus,
I hope this message finds you well and filled with the joy of the Lord. Today, I want to talk to you about something close to our hearts - World Mission Sunday.
Every year, on this special day, we have the opportunity to reflect on our call as Christians to be missionaries, to share the love of Christ with others near and far. It’s a day when we unite as a global Church, recognizing that we are all part of a great mission, the mission of Christ.
As we look around the world, we see that the need for the Gospel message is as vital as ever. There are communities and individuals who have yet to hear the Good News, who are waiting for the hope and love that only Christ can bring.
This mission is not just for a select few but for all of us. We are called to be witnesses to the transformative power of Jesus Christ, in our families, our neighbourhoods, and to the ends of the earth.
World Mission Sunday reminds us of the great commission Christ gave us in Matthew 28:19-20: ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.’ Our call to mission is not just about crossing borders but also about crossing boundaries - boundaries of fear, indifference, and prejudice. It’s about reaching out with compassion and love to those who are different from us, just as Christ did during His earthly ministry.
For the Mission Sunday this year, on 22 October 2023, our Holy Father has taken the theme, “hearts on fire, feet on the move” inspired by the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus, in the Gospel of Luke. Those two disciples were confused and dismayed, but their encounter with Christ in the word and in the breaking of the bread sparked in them the enthusiastic desire to set out again towards Jerusalem and proclaim that the Lord had truly risen.
Our Holy Father proposes three steps for our missionary journey: one, being open to the words of the Risen Lord and being illumined by them; two, opening our hearts and recognizing Jesus who walks with us; three, returning to Jerusalem with the joy of telling others about the Risen Christ.
May this image of the disciples of Emmaus inspire us to have our hearts on fire, and feet on the move for the mission.
Let us take a moment to know about the Pontifical Mission Organisations, with one mission but four faces:
One, The Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Since 1822. Founded by Blessed Pauline Marie Jaricot in France. Gathering a small group, mostly daily wagers, she asked them to offer daily prayer and a weekly sacrifice of a penny. She directed her efforts towards the missions of the Universal Church. This society helps us in constructing / renovating our churches, establishing parishes, assisting scholarships to priests and religious for higher learning, conducting faith formation programs in our dioceses.
Two, the Missionary Childhood Association, Since 1843. Founded in France by Bishop Forbin-Janson, who as a priest wanted to work with the poorest of the world’s children in the missions, an initiative of children helping children - as children pray and sacrifice for their brothers and sisters in need across the world. Being known Holy Childhood Association, this helps us construct classrooms for schools, prepare didactic materials for school children, and conduct faith formation and value education programs for children.
Three, the Society of Saint Peter the Apostle. Founded in 1889 by Jeanne Bigard and her mother Stephanie in response to a letter from a French Bishop in Japan asking for funds to provide for 50 young men preparing for the priesthood. Ever since its inception the Societysupports mission vocations, both priestly and Religious.
Four, the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. Father Paolo Manna, a PIME missionary, establishes the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious in 1916. This spiritual apostolate supports those engaged in catechesis and religious educations to help Catholics to better understand their baptismal responsibility for the Church’s missionary work.
Each of these four societies received the official title of “Pontifical” in 1922, and their central administration was transferred to Rome to assist the Pope in his outreach to the Missions.
Today, I encourage you to reflect on how you can be a part of this great mission. It might be through prayer, financial support, or volunteering your time and talents. Consider how you can support missionaries in the field or engage in acts of kindness and outreach in your own community.
Remember that your actions, no matter how small they may seem, can have a profound impact on someone’s life. Through your generosity and love, you can bring Christ to others and bring others to Christ.
Let us use this World Mission Sunday as a reminder of our shared responsibility to spread the Gospel, to be lights in a world that sometimes feels dark and uncertain. Let us unite in prayer, asking God to guide us in our mission and to open doors for His message to reach those who have yet to hear it.
Thank you for your faith, your love, and your commitment to the mission of Christ. Together, as a global Church, we can make a difference in the world, one heart at a time.
May God bless you abundantly on this World Mission Sunday, and may His love continue to shine through you.
May our Blessed Virgin Mother, the Queen of the Missions, and may Saint Francis Xavier and others who brought faith to our soil, intercede for us.
Let our burning hearts, make our feet move on the synodal journey building communion, promoting participation, and being committed to mission.