On Sunday, 18 October 2020, the Universal Church celebrates World Mission Sunday (WMS) with the theme – “Here am I, send me!” in response to God’s question – “Whom shall I send?” (Is 6:8). The same question is addressed to us in this time of global crisis, awaiting our generous and convincing response – “Here am I Lord, send me!” God continues to look for those whom He can “send forth into the world, to bear witness to His love, and desire for life and liberation from evil” (cf. Mt 9:35-38; Lk 10:1-12).
In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Holy Father Pope Francis’ message for WMS highlights that the pandemic has created a lot of suffering, new challenges and has also set a new norm in the way of life for humanity and the Church. In the midst of this difficult time, he wants every Catholic to carry out the mission of Jesus “to witness faith and the proclamation of the Gospel” as God continues to “manifest His love, and touch and transform hearts, societies and cultures in every place and time.” Once again, the Church invites us to be in solidarity with people who are living in conditions where poverty, violence and / or oppression prevail. We, as a Catholic community, are called to meet the spiritual and material needs of people throughout the world, as our mission and evangelisation.
“Jesus is the Father’s Missionary and His life and ministry reveals His total obedience to the Father’s will” (cf. Jn 4:34; 6:38; 8:12-30; Heb 10:5-10). The Holy Father reminds every Catholic about our personal vocation – our mission, our call and our willingness to go forth – which originated from God the Father, who sent His only Son to save humanity. We, as baptised Catholics should “continue the mission of Jesus” to go wherever we are sent, and manifest the love of God and “transform hearts, minds, bodies, societies and cultures in every place and time.”
Are we willing to be sent forth at any time or to any place? Before we are ready to respond “Here I am, Lord, send me,” we need to discern our relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and reflect on the response of Mother Mary, as she willingly surrendered herself completely to the service of God’s will – “Let it be done according to your will!”
The world is currently pressuring us “to observe social distancing and to stay at home” but the Church invites us “to rediscover that we need social relationships as well as our communal relationship with God.” During this difficult time, we see a rise in world poverty – many have lost their jobs and income, many are starving and many are depressed. The Church’s mission is very challenging, as no matter what, we should “open to the needs of our brothers and sisters, for dignity and freedom, as well as our responsibility to care for all creation.”
On this celebration of World Mission Sunday, let us reaffirm and reunite ourselves in prayer, reflection and through our kind contributions. We strive to support the missionary work carried out under the Pontifical Mission Societies “to meet spiritual and material needs of peoples and churches throughout the world.” Let’s together, with the intention of the Holy Father, willingly respond God’s call – “Here am I Lord, send me!” (Is 6:8) as we participate in the mission of Jesus on this earth.
(An Extract of Pope Francis’ Message for World Mission Sunday 2020)
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy