October 2017 Mission Month
Reach Out and Spread the Joy
The Church is by its very nature missionary. That is a way of saying that if the Church is not missionary it is not being faithful to its purpose. That begs the question – what does it mean to be missionary? It means to evangelize and Pope Paul VI explained in a letter he wrote in 1975 that to evangelize is to give simple and direct witness to the Word of God.
To give witness to the Word of God means to live by it, to allow it to guide our words, our actions and our attitudes. This applies to all the baptized and not just to some smaller groupings such as priests and religious. To be a witness of the Gospel means to be committed to it, to have the conviction that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
In this country Mission has been very much associated with going overseas, especially to poorer countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This was very evident throughout the last century because of the thousands of priests, brothers, religious sisters and lay people who dedicated themselves to missionary activity across the globe: encouraging people who had already heard the Good News and sharing the Gospel message with those who had not previously heard it. The number of Irish personnel now overseas is smaller than formerly but that does not diminish in any way the enormous contribution of Irish missionaries of past generations to the mission of the Church.
Each one is missionary in her/his own specific circumstances whether that is in one’s home country or abroad. A mother of a family, a colleague in the workplace or at school, a member of a church group, a person with affinity for young people, a neighbour who visits the sick – and these are just a few random examples – can all be missionaries.
This is the year of the Family and we know that the family is meant by God to be a missionary setting. Thank God that it so often is. Pope Francis, in his recent exhortation about marriage and the family, refers to the family as a domestic church because it is made up of people who have faith and who are committed to one another’s wellbeing. He also refers to the church as a family of families because the bond of faith unites us in a common purpose.
Let us express gratitude to God for our missionary calling by re-commiting ourselves to our missionary responsibility.
Sunday the 22nd of October is Mission Sunday.