Sunday, October 22, 2006

Mission Sunday--Pope's Angelus

The secular news reports one or the other aspects of the italicized message...all with some spin attached as to what the Pope is doing (placating the Muslims etc.), but the bold print is what strikes me as the real meat of today's angelus....something to think about as you go out and hear a Mission Sunday homily.

From the Papa Ratzi Forumn (translated by Teresa Benedetta):

Today we celebrate the 80th World Missionary Day. It was instituted by Pope Pius XI who gave a strong push to the mssions ad gentes, and in the Jubilee Year of 1925, promoted a grand exposition which became what is now the ethnological-Missionary Collections of the Vatican Museums.

This year, in the message for the occasion, I proposed the theme "Charity, spirit of mission". Indeed, if mission is not inspired by love, it is reduced to a philanthropic and social activity.

But for Christians, the words of St. Paul are valid: "Love of Christ urges us on" (2 Cor 5,14). The love that moved the Father to send His Son to the world and the Son to offer Himself for us by His death on the Cross - that same love is instilled by the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer.

Every baptized person, like a shoot from the vine, can thus cooperate in the mission of Jesus which can be summarized thus: to bring to every person the good news that "God is love" and because of this, He wants to save the world.

Mission comes from the heart: When one stops to pray before the Crucifix, and looks at the pierced chest of Christ, one cannot but feel the joy of knowing we are loved, and a desire to love and become an instrument of mercy and reconciliation.

That is what happened 800 years ago to the young Francis of Assisi in the little church of St. Damian which was then in ruins. From atop the Cross, now kept in the Basilica of St. Clare, Francis heard Jesus tell him: "Go, repair my house which, as you see, is all in ruins."

That 'house" was, first of all, his own life, to be 'repaired' through a true conversion; it was the Church, not that one of bricks, but that of living persons who are always in need of purification; it was also all mankind, in whom God wants to live.

Mission always starts from a heart transformed by the love of God, as shown by countless stories about the saints and martyrs who in different ways gave their lives in the service of the Gospel.

Mission is therefore a worksite where there is a place for everyone: for those committed to realize in their own families the Kingdom of God; for those who carry out their profession in the Christian spirit; for those who consecrate themselves totally to the Lord; for those who follow Jesus the Good Shepherd in the ministry ordained for the people of God; for those who specifically go forth to announce Christ to those who do not yet know Him.

May the Most Holy Mary help us live with renewed missionary impulse - each in the situation Providence has placed us - the joy and the courage of mission.

After the Angelus, he said the following:

I am happy to send a cordial greeting to the Muslims of the whoe world who these days are celebrating the end of the fasting monmth of RAmadan. I wish everyone serenity and peace!

In dramatic contrast to this joyous atmosphere is the news coming from Iraq on the most serious problems of security and the brutal violence to which so many innocents are exposed just because they are Shiite, Sunni or Christian.

I feel the great concern throughout the Christian community there and I wish to assure them that I am near to them, as I am to all victims of violence, and for all, I pray for strength and consolation.

I invite you to join me in asking the Omnipotent to grant the faith and courage needed by religious authorities and political leaders, local as well as international, to support the Iraqi people in reconstructing their homeland, in seeking a shared equilibrium, and in reciprocal respect, knowing that the multiplicity of their national components is an integral part of the nation's wealth.