This year, the Church celebrates World Mission Sunday on 24 October 2021 and the theme chosen by the Holy Father is: “We cannot but speak what we have seen and heard,” (Act 4:20). Pope Francis reminds us that we cannot remain silent by keeping Jesus’ love, compassion, mercy and His teachings to ourselves, but instead, we must go forth and proclaim His message of hope to everyone, everywhere. We must speak what we have seen and heard in order to be His witnesses, as how the apostles were the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ entire ministry and His resurrection. The Holy Father invites individuals and communities to engage in the Church’s mission, which is to “Go, therefore to the highways and byways, and invite everyone you find,” (MT 22: 9) by sharing our experiences and encounters of God’s love to one and all.
The Apostles had experienced the first encounters of Jesus’ ministry and His resurrection. Their experiences and encounters prompted them to enter into dialogue with everyone, in every part of the world. When we read the Acts of the Apostles and of the lives of the first Christians, we are awakened to their endurance, hardships and the many conflicts which they had encountered in proclaiming the message of the Gospel to various communities. However, their witness and testimonies initiated and inspired the faith of those communities.
The Holy Father stresses that there is “an urgent need for the mission of compassion” for what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20) during this pandemic. Pope Francis wants us to be “missionaries of hope.” He expects us to share Christ, who is truly alive in us, in order to bring “transformation to our world and in the care of creation.”
In the present age, we face a lot of difficulties, obstacles, injustices, poverty, brokenness and divisions which cause “discouragement, disillusionment and fatigue” in carrying the mission of Christ. However, we have “to rise up and seek with creativity, every possible way to show compassion” and “Sacramental closeness of God to us” so that others may experience God’s touch too. As Christians, we cannot keep Jesus to ourselves, but we need to commit to being apostles of the Gospel of hope, and to become “messengers and agents of compassion,” in supporting the Pope’s missions.
Mission Sunday 2021 reminds us that everyone must be in “Communion, Participation and Mission” as we “journey together” for a Synodal Church. Let’s be in the spirit of mission always, keeping our faith and our Church alive, by engaging ourselves with everyone, everywhere. As we join the Holy Father’s mission, we pray that we will be “generous and joyful apostles of the Gospel of hope” and be “true missionary disciples” to our communities and to our nation.
(AN EXTRACT FROM THE MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER FOR WORLD MISSION SUNDAY 2021)
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy