Unless mission is animated by charity, that is, unless it flows from a profound act of divine love, it risks being reduced to a mere philanthropic and social action. The love which God has for each single person constitutes, in fact, the very core of living and preaching the Gospel, and all who hear it in turn, become witnesses (Message for World Mission Sunday, 2006, 1).The message of the Gospel must be proclaimed to each and every person; no one can be refused the message of salvation in Christ Jesus. This is the very purpose of the Church; without this mission the Church would not exist.
The mandate to spread the message of love was entrusted to the apostles by Jesus after his resurrection, and the apostles, inwardly transformed on the day of Pentecost by the power of the Holy Spirit, began to bear witness to the Lord’s death and resurrection. From that time on the Church continues this same mission which constitutes for all believers an indispensable and permanent duty (MWMS, 1).In all that she does, the Church seeks always and everywhere to make known that “we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God” (Hebrews 4:14).
Today Jesus warns us, “whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all” (Mark 10:43). “Every Christian community is called, then, to make God known, who is love” through service and charity (MWMS, 2). What greater act of service can there be than to make known Jesus Christ so that all people might “confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help”? (Hebrews 4:16). What greater charitable gift can there be than to help ensure that every person hears the Gospel to proclaimed?
Here, we would do well to recall how salvation first came to us:
“In the beginning, man came from the Creator's hands as the fruit of an initiative of love. Later, sin obscured the impression of the divine within him.Precisely in the love of Jesus Christ – the love that went to the Cross and beyond - we see
“Deceived by the Evil One, Adam and Eve, our first parents, failed to live up to the relationship of trust with their Lord, succumbing to the temptation of the Evil One who instilled in them the suspicion that the Lord was a rival and wanted to limit their freedom.
“So it was that they preferred themselves to divine love freely given, convinced that in this way they were asserting their own free will. They consequently ended by losing their original happiness and they tasted the bitter sorrow of sin and death.
“However, God did not abandon them. He promised salvation to them and to their descendents, announcing in advance that he would send his Only-begotten Son, Jesus, who in the fullness of time was to reveal his love as Father, a love capable of redeeming every human creature from the slavery of evil and death.
“In Christ, therefore, immortal life was communicated to us, the very life of the Trinity. Thanks to Christ, the Good Shepherd who did not abandon the lost sheep, human beings of all time were granted the possibility of entering into communion with God, the Merciful Father who was prepared to welcome home the Prodigal Son” (MWMS, 2).
love in its most radical form. It is there that this truth can be contemplated. It is from there that our definition of love must begin. In this contemplation the Christian discovers the path along which his life and love must move” (Pope Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est, 12).We are called to make our home in God so that we can announce to all people the wondrous truth that “God is love” (I John 4:16).
“On the eve of his Passion, Jesus bequeathed as a testament to his disciples, who had gathered in the Upper Room to celebrate the Passover, the "new commandment of love - mandatum novum": "This I command you, to love one another" (Jn 15: 17). The brotherly love that the Lord asked of his "friends" originates in the fatherly love of God (MWMS, 3).
“The Apostle John noted: "He who loves is born of God and knows God" (I Jn 4: 7). Therefore, to love according to God it is necessary to live in him and of him: God is the first "home" of human beings, and only by dwelling in God do men and women burn with a flame of divine love that can set the world "on fire"” (MWMS, 3).
What then does it mean to be a missionary? What must one do to carry out the mission of the Church, a mission entrusted to each and every member of the baptized? It means simply this: “loving God with all one’s heart, even to the point, if necessary, of dying for him” (MWMS, 3).
Being missionaries means stooping down to the needs of all, like the Good Samaritan, especially those of the poorest and most destitute people, because those who love with Christ's Heart do not seek their own interests but the glory of the Father and the good of their neighbor alone. Here lies the secret of the apostolic fruitfulness of missionary action that crosses frontiers and cultures, reaches peoples and spreads to the extreme boundaries of the world (MWMS, 3).Being a missionary means being “the slave of all” (Mark 10:).
Let us each, then, take up on the banner of the Cross and proclaim to everyone the truth of God’s love and salvation. If we truly know the Lord Jesus Christ, we will want everyone we know him, too, much in the same way we introduce one friend to another. Let us pray for the missions; let us contribute generously to the spread of the Gospel; let us not forget that we, too, are missionary persons. Let us make known the great love of God both to the far corners of the world, and to the corner of the nearest street. This is the “indispensable and permanent duty” of every Christian (MWMS, 1).