Reflecting this year about the missionary calling that is directed to the whole church, I have to make a special reference to the message that has been given by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, for the World Missionary Time this year 2015.

You certainly know we are celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life, which will be a year specially dedicated to those who attempt to follow Christ in many ways, but everyone try following Christ by giving their lives to Him, following the Gospel in its word and spirit. Every Institute of Consecrated Life gets the message from the Gospel in its very own specific and particular way, accepted by the Church as a gift.

This gift, that is every family of consecrated to the Church, is shared in many of its methods by young and not so young lay people who feel attracted to this way of being in the Church. That’s your case because you feel touched by the calling to preach (and to mission) based in study, prayer and fraternal life whit other who have the same ideal.

Let me talk you three paragraphs of the Pope’s message:

“Being a missionary is not about proselytizing or mere strategy; mission is part of the ‘grammar’ of faith, something essential for those who listen to the voice of the Spirit who whispers “come” and “Go forth”. Those who follow Christ cannot fall to be missionaries, for they know that Jesus walks with them, speaks to them, breathes with them. They sense Jesus alive with them in the midst of the missionary enterprise” (Ap. Exort. Evangelii Gaudium, 266)

I think you perceive well this Pope’s word, being a missioner is not a strategy to fill the churches, it’s a consequence of our relationship with Jesus when we feel that He walks with us, that He gives meaning to our lives, that He is the way of happiness. His message can make the world a better place, more humane, fairer and more fraternal. We offer this message as water is offered to those who are thirsty, because first of all, for us He is the source, light and meaning of life.

“Mission is a passion for Jesus and at the same time a passion for his people. When we pray before Jesus crucified, we see the depth of his love which gives us dignity and sustains us. At the same time, we realize that the love flowing from Jesus’ pierced heart expands to embrace the People of God and all humanity. We realize once more that he wants to make use of us to draw closer to his beloved people and all those who seek him with a sincere heart. In Jesus’ command to ‘go forth’, we see the scenarios and ever-present new challenges of the Church’s evangelizing mission.”

I was particularly sensitive to the definition proposed by the Holy Father of seeing the mission as a passion. Passion involves a great inner strength, to love in a way that make heart beats out of its normal rhythm. Many of us know what it’s to be passionate. It is beautiful that the Pope wanted to use this word to define the mission: it’s not an ideological discourse, it’s born of a strong experience that makes us see God and humanity with a different look. The motivation of Saint Dominic to found the Order was a passion fueled by listening the Word and motivated by meeting with people who were victims of hunger (having this experience when he was very young), and hunger of something else: a sense for their lives. Our mission has to be lived in a passionate way, because only then it has strength and hurries our commitment.

“I appeal in particular to young people, who are capable of courageous witness and generous deeds, even when these are countercultural: do not allow others to rob you of the ideal of a true mission, of following Jesus through the total gift of yourself. In the depths of your conscience, ask yourself why you chose the religious missionary life and take stock of your readiness to accept it for what it is: a gift of love at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel. Remember that, even before being necessary for those who have not yet heard it, the proclamation of the Gospel is a necessity for those who love the Master.”

Here I emphasize the word ‘sleep’. A writer of my country wrote that “every time a man dreams, the world jumps and moves on as a colorful ball in the hands of a child”. Sometimes, for the dreams and with a little bit of utopia, the world can change and stop being only a harsh reality. As the Pope said, do not let them to rob our dreams and ideas of transforming the world in the manner of the Gospel, in the manner of Jesus’ challenges.

With a word of affection and encouragement to all of you,

Fr. Rui

 
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