Pope Francis speaks of the missionary characteristic of the Church and on how it brings joy, peace and healing.
By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis focused his catechesis on Sunday on the missionary nature of the Church, pointing out that it must always be joyful and bring peace and healing.
Reflecting on the Gospel reading of the day that tells of when Jesus, in addition to the twelve apostles, sent seventy-two disciples on a mission – because 72 he explained refers to the 72 different nations mentioned in the book of Genesis – the Pope said “this sending anticipates the Church’s mission to proclaim the Gospel to all.”
He said that to those disciples Jesus said “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest”.
Universal dimension of prayer
And inviting each of us to do so with an open heart, with a missionary attitude, the Pope said “our prayer must not be limited only to our needs and our necessities, because a prayer is truly Christian if it also has a universal dimension”.
Pope Francis went on to explain that mission is based on prayer; that it is itinerant; that it requires detachment and poverty; that it brings peace and healing which, he said, are signs of the closeness of the Kingdom of God.
Mission is proclamation and witness
He also stressed that mission is not proselytism but proclamation and witness and said it requires frankness and the evangelical freedom.
“If lived in these terms, the mission of the Church will be marked by joy”, he said.
The Pope concluded noting that this joy is not a fleeting joy triggered by the success of the mission, but a joy rooted in the promise that – as Jesus says – “your names are written in heaven”.
It’s the inner and indestructible joy that comes from the awareness of having been called by God to follow his Son: the joy of being his disciples.
“Each of us”, Pope Francis said, “can think of the name he received on the day of his baptism: that name is “written in heaven”, in the heart of God the Father. “And it is the joy of this gift that makes every disciple a missionary, one who walks in the company of the Lord Jesus, who learns from Him to spend himself, unreservedly, for others, free from himself and from his own possessions”.