10/02/2017, 14.54

The world is in urgent need of the Church's mission

Bernardo Cervellera

October is a month devoted to awakening the call to mission among Christians. In the world there is indifference or enmity towards God and the Church. Religions are considered the source of all wars. Christianity is the encounter with a Person who changes the life of the believer and places him at the service of the wounds of the world, torn by frustrations and fratricidal wars. The example of the Patriarch of Baghdad and of the President of South Korea.

Rome (AsiaNews) - In a world that seems so indifferent to the Christian faith, and where religion seems to be the cause of all conflicts, the urgency of the Church's mission is increasingly acute. October, traditionally, is dedicated to reawakening our call to mission and began yesterday with the feast of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, patron of missions. The culmination of this awakening is on World Mission Day, which is now in its 91st edition, celebrated on Sunday, October 22nd.

Like every year, Pope Francis dedicates a Message to this Day, this year on "The Mission at the Heart of the Christian Faith". We have already published the full text elsewhere.

Here, instead, we would like to indicate some salient points. First of all, the fact that "the Church is missionary by nature; if it were not, it would no longer be the Church of Christ, but an association like many others, which would soon end with the end of its purpose and disappear. " What makes it missionary is the joy of having encountered the transforming power of the person of Jesus Christ. Francis cites Pope Benedict XVI: "Let us never forget" that being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a Person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction "(Benedict XVI, Lett. Deus caritas est, 1). The Gospel is a Person who continually offers himself and constantly invites those who receive him with humble and religious faith to share his life by an effective participation in the paschal mystery of his death and resurrection.  "(No. 4).

This point is fundamental: all too often, faced with a world where God is considered useless trash, a world which is an enemy of Christian life, the faithful barricade themselves into a citadel made of affirmations, traditions, lifestyles, moral lines with which to wage war against the world. In other instances there are groups that close themselves within their little shell made of beautiful liturgies, sentimental fraternities, small commitments, sighing and watching the world go to ruin. Very often, even among Christian people, one perceives a bitter tiredness, as if Christianity was now at the end and the world is now capable of such great things that it is better to follow it instead of fighting it.

For Pope Francis and for us, today's world, so self-sufficient, needs missionaries, that is, a life that has been transformed by the Gospel and in turn transforms society around it. The pontiff describes "a world marked by confusion, disappointment and frustration, and torn by numerous fratricidal wars that unjustly target the innocent." Looking at Asia alone, we only have to remember the martyrdom of so many brothers and sisters in the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, China. Their suffering is a sign of imbalance and violence in their countries, which also envelopes other ethnic and religious groups in blood. And too often, power or economic conflicts are masked as wars between religions, creating an even greater rejection of God.

This world, Francis says, vitally needs the person and power of Jesus Christ, "through the Church, Christ continues his mission as the Good Samaritan, caring for the bleeding wounds of humanity, and as Good Shepherd, constantly seeking out those who wander along winding paths that lead nowhere."(No. 5). "The Gospel - he adds - helps to overcome narrowness, conflict, racism, tribalism, and to promote everywhere, and among all, reconciliation, fraternity, and sharing." (ibidem).

In all these years of  Isis’ "holy war", when the temptation to flee or despise Islam was strong, Baghdad Patriarch Louis Sako always asked Christians to work for the reconciliation of the country, for coexistence, even now amid the risk of new conflicts with the new pressures raised by Kurdistan's independence.

Even on the Korean Peninsula, shaken by Kim Jong-un's nuclear experiments and the threats of "total destruction" launched by Donald Trump, the voice of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a Catholic, stands out. While supporting UN sanctions against the contemptuous regime of the North, he continues to demand that there always be room for dialogue. At the UN General Assembly on September 21, he said, "We do not want the collapse of North Korea ... If North Korea takes a decision now to get on the right side of history, we are ready to assist North Korea with the international community ". And as a sign of benevolence and friendship, on the same day he decreed the sending $ 8 million in food aid and medicines for the starving northern population wracked by a tuberculosis epidemic.

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