VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 7, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican
translation of Benedict XVI´s address for the 83rd World Mission
Day, which will be celebrated this year on Sunday, Oct.
The message, dated June 29, feast of Sts. Peter and
Paul, was published Saturday in six languages.
* * *
will walk in its light" (Rev 21:24)
On this Sunday, dedicated
to the missions, I turn first of all to you,
my brothers in the episcopal and the priestly ministry, and
then to you, my brothers and sisters, the whole People
of God, to encourage in each one of you a
deeper awareness of Christ´s missionary mandate to "make disciples of
all peoples" (Mt 28:19), in the footsteps of Saint Paul,
the Apostle of the nations.
"The nations will walk in its
light" (Rev 21:24). The goal of the Church´s mission is
to illumine all peoples with the light of the Gospel
as they journey through history towards God, so that in
Him they may reach their full potential and fulfilment. We
should have a longing and a passion to illumine all
peoples with the light of Christ that shines on the
face of the Church, so that all may be gathered
into the one human family, under God´s loving fatherhood.
in this perspective that the disciples of Christ spread throughout
the world work, struggle and groan under the burden of
suffering, offering their very lives. I strongly reiterate what was
so frequently affirmed by my venerable Predecessors: the Church works
not to extend her power or assert her dominion, but
to lead all people to Christ, the salvation of the
world. We seek only to place ourselves at the service
of all humanity, especially the suffering and the excluded, because
we believe that "the effort to proclaim the Gospel to
the people of today... is a service rendered to the
Christian community and also to the whole of humanity" (Evangelii
Nuntiandi, 1), which "has experienced marvellous achievements but which seems
to have lost its sense of ultimate realities and of
existence itself" (Redemptoris Missio, 2).
All Peoples are called to salvation
In truth, the whole of humanity has the radical
vocation to return to its source, to return to God,
since in Him alone can it find fulfilment through the
restoration of all things in Christ. Dispersion, multiplicity, conflict and
enmity will be healed and reconciled through the blood of
the Cross and led back to unity.
This new beginning can
already be seen in the resurrection and exaltation of Christ,
who draws all things to himself, renewing them and enabling
them to share in the eternal joy of God. The
future of the new creation is already shining in our
world and, despite contradictions and suffering, it enkindles hope for
new life. The Church´s mission is to spread hope "contagiously"
among all peoples. This is why Christ calls, justifies, sanctifies
and sends his disciples to proclaim the Kingdom of God,
so that all nations may become the People of God.
It is only in this mission that the true journey
of humanity is understood and attested. The universal mission should
become a fundamental constant in the life of the Church.
Proclamation of the Gospel must be for us, as it
was for the Apostle Paul, a primary and unavoidable duty.
The universal Church, which knows neither borders
nor frontiers, is aware of her responsibility to proclaim the
Gospel to entire peoples (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 53). It is
the duty of the Church, called to be a seed
of hope, to continue Christ´s service in the world. The
measure of her mission and service is not material or
even spiritual needs limited to the sphere of temporal existence,
but instead, it is transcendent salvation, fulfilled in the Kingdom
of God (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 27). This Kingdom, although ultimately
eschatological and not of this world (cfr Jn 18:36), is
also in this world and within its history a force
for justice and peace, for true freedom and respect for
the dignity of every human person. The Church wishes to
transform the world through the proclamation of the Gospel of
love, "that can always illuminate a world grown dim and
give us the courage needed to keep living and working
… and in this way … cause the light of
God to enter into the world" (Deus Caritas Est, 39).
With this message I renew my invitation to all the
members and institutions of the Church to participate in this
mission and this service.
Missio ad gentes
The mission of
the Church, therefore, is to call all peoples to the
salvation accomplished by God through his incarnate Son. It is
therefore necessary to renew our commitment to proclaiming the Gospel
which is a leaven of freedom and progress, brotherhood, unity
and peace (cf. Ad Gentes, 8). I would "confirm once
more that the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the
essential mission of the Church" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14), a duty
and a mission which the widespread and profound changes in
present-day society render ever more urgent. At stake is the
eternal salvation of persons, the goal and the fulfilment of
human history and the universe. Animated and inspired by the
Apostle of the nations, we must realize that God has
many people in all the cities visited by the apostles
of today (cfr Acts 18:10). In fact "the promise is
to you and to your children and to all that
are far off, every one whom the Lord our God
calls to him" (Acts 2:39).
The whole Church must be committed
to the missio ad gentes, until the salvific sovereignty of
Christ is fully accomplished: "At present, it is true, we
are not able to see that all things are in
subjection to him" (Heb 2:8).
Called to evangelize even through martyrdom
On this day dedicated to the missions, I recall
in prayer those who have consecrated their lives exclusively to
the work of evangelization. I mention especially the local Churches
and the men and women missionaries who bear witness to
and spread the Kingdom of God in situations of persecution,
subjected to forms of oppression ranging from social discrimination to
prison, torture and death. Even today, not a few are
put to death for the sake of his "Name". The
words of my venerable Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, continue
to speak powerfully to us: "The Jubilee remembrance has presented
us with a surprising vista, showing us that our own
time is particularly prolific in witnesses, who in different ways
were able to live the Gospel in the midst of
hostility and persecution, often to the point of the supreme
test of shedding their blood" (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 41).
the mission of Christ is also granted to those who
preach the Gospel, for whom is reserved the same destiny
as their Master. "Remember the words I said to you:
A servant is not greater than his master. If they
persecuted me, they will persecute you too" (Jn 15:20). The
Church walks the same path and suffers the same destiny
as Christ, since she acts not on the basis of
any human logic or relying on her own strength, but
instead she follows the way of the Cross, becoming, in
filial obedience to the Father, a witness and a travelling
companion for all humanity.
I remind Churches of ancient foundation and
those that are more recent that the Lord has sent
them to be the salt of the earth and the
light of the world, and he has called them to
spread Christ, the Light of the nations, to the far
corners of the earth. They must make the Missio ad
gentes a pastoral priority.
I am grateful to the Pontifical Mission
Societies and I encourage them in their indispensable service of
promoting missionary animation and formation, as well as channelling material
help to young Churches. Through these Pontifical Institutions, communion among
the Churches is admirably achieved via the exchange of gifts,
reciprocal concern and shared missionary endeavours.
Missionary zeal has
always been a sign of the vitality of our Churches
(cf. Redemptoris Missio, 2). Nevertheless it must be reaffirmed that
evangelization is primarily the work of the Spirit; before being
action, it is witness and irradiation of the light of
Christ (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 26) on the part of the
local Church, which sends men and women beyond her frontiers
as missionaries. I therefore ask all Catholics to pray to
the Holy Spirit for an increase in the Church´s passion
for her mission to spread the Kingdom of God and
to support missionaries and Christian communities involved in mission, in
the front line, often in situations of hostility and persecution.
the same time I ask everyone, as a credible sign
of communion among the Churches, to offer financial assistance, especially
in these times of crisis affecting all humanity, to enable
the young local Churches to illuminate the nations with the
Gospel of charity.
May we be guided in our missionary activity
by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of New Evangelization, who
brought Christ into the world to be the light of
the nations and to carry salvation "to the ends of
the earth" (Acts 13:47).
To all I impart my Blessing.
Vatican, 29 June 2009
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
© Copyright 2009 - Libreria