Pope: the missionary ‘lives the courage of the Gospel without too much calculation’

In his meeting with the delegations of missionary institutes of Italian foundation, Francis, said: “Do not be afraid to bear witness to Jesus even where it is uncomfortable or inconvenient. Witness Him with your whole life.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis received in audience the delegations of missionary institutes of Italian foundation, on the eve of the Extraordinary Missionary Month. In his address, the pontiff focused on the decision to become a missionary in today’s world, even in difficult situations. The missionary, he noted, “lives the courage of the Gospel without too much calculation, sometimes going beyond common sense because he or she is driven by the trust placed exclusively in Jesus”. Indeed, “There is no other reason but the Risen Christ to decide to leave, to leave your loved ones, your country, your friends, your culture”.

“The proclamation of the beauty, joy and novelty of the Gospel is explicit and implicit; it touches all the situations of the human adventure. Do not be afraid to bear witness to Jesus even where it is uncomfortable or inconvenient. Witness Him with your whole life, not with entrepreneurial methods that respond more to a spirit of proselytism than to a true evangelization. Do not forget that the protagonist of evangelization is the Holy Spirit. He, the Lord, will know how to find ways to make that little seed, which is His name pronounced in love by a missionary, take root and transform little by little into a plant of solid faith in the shadow of which many will be able to rest. The buried seed... I think of something that Cardinal Hummes told me: he is ‘retired’ but he is the person in charge of the Brazilian Episcopate for the whole region of the Amazon, and when he goes to a village, to a town, one of the first things he does is go to the cemetery, to see the graves of the missionaries. He told me this and then added: ‘All of them deserve to be canonized, for the seed they have sown there’. A good thought.”

“It struck me to hear you repeat without hesitation: “We are missionaries, and missionaries ad gentes... ad extra... ad vitam”. And you do not say it as a slogan – that would be dangerous! – but with the due motivations and specifications. You say it without triumphalism or a sense of challenge, indeed, in the awareness of the current crisis, it is welcomed as an opportunity for discernment, conversion, renewal.”

“By consecrating yourselves to the mission ad gentes, you are making your specific contribution to the commitment of the whole Church to evangelization. With the richness of the charisms of your Institutes - which means hearts, faces, stories and also the blood of missionaries - you interpret the message of the Evangelii nuntiandi of Saint Paul VI, that of the Redemptoris missio of Saint John Paul II, and that of the Evangelii gaudium. And with this hermeneutics embodied in your life and that of your communities you enrich the feeling and the journey of the Church.”

”You help to keep alive in the people of God the awareness of being constitutionally ‘outgoing’, sent to bring to all nations the blessing of God, Who is Jesus Christ. And you also help remember that mission is not the work of individuals, of ‘solitary champions’, but rather it is communal, fraternal, shared. In this sense, collaboration between your Institutes is an added value: continue in this way!”

“Another typical contribution that you offer to the Church is to show that the mission is not ‘one-way’ – from Europe to the rest of the world: these are the traces of old colonialism – but lives on an interchange, which is now evident but must be grasped as a value, a sign of the times. Today the majority of priestly and religious vocations arise in territories that previously only received missionaries. This fact, on the one hand, increases in us the sense of gratitude towards the holy evangelizers who have sown with great sacrifices in those lands; and on the other hand it constitutes a challenge for the Churches and for the Institutes: a challenge for communion and for formation. But it is a challenge to be accepted without fear, with confidence in the Holy Spirit Who is the Master in harmonizing differences.”

“It is necessary to rediscover the fascinating adventure of becoming close to one another, of becoming friends, of welcoming one another and of helping one another. This attitude concerns everyone: priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful. The theme for the extraordinary missionary October 2019 is ‘Baptized and sent’, chosen precisely to remind us that the intrinsic nature of the Church is missionary. The Church exists on the road; on the couch there is no Church.”