"The identity of the Church is to evangelize": Pope Francis emphasizes the importance of the mission

This Thursday, January 6, was made public the message of Pope Francis for World Missionary Day which will be celebrated in October. Francis emphasizes in this message the importance of being a witness to Christ, which according to him is the call of "every Christian".

“You will receive strength when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; then you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. "Acts 1: 8

It is on this verse of the Acts of the Apostles that the Argentinian pontiff chose to stop in his January 6 message announcing the 2022 edition of World Missionary Day, which will take place next October. A day which, according to Francis, "helps us to live the fact that the Church is missionary by nature".

He focused in particular on "three key expressions" which sum up according to him, "the three foundations of the life and mission of the disciples": "You will be my witnesses", "to the ends of the earth" and " you will receive strength when the Holy Spirit comes upon you ”.

"You will be my witnesses" because he recalls that “every Christian is called to be a missionary and a witness of Christ. And the Church, the community of Christ's disciples, has no other mission than that of evangelizing the world by witnessing to Christ. The identity of the Church is to evangelize ”.

“Therefore, the example of the Christian life and the proclamation of Christ go together in evangelization. One serves the other, ”continues François.

Expression "To the ends of the earth" expresses for Francis the "universal character" of the mission of Christians. Evoking in passing the migratory crisis, the Pope expresses his gratitude to the brothers and sisters who "because of religious persecutions and situations of war and violence" are forced to flee their lands to go to other countries and "testify of Christ and of the love of God in the countries which welcome them ”.

“In fact, we are experiencing more and more how the presence of the faithful of various nationalities enriches the face of parishes and makes them more universal, more Catholic,” he continues.

He continues by inviting Christians to meet others, recalling that “the Church of Christ has been, is and always will be 'going out' towards new geographical, social and existential horizons, towards human places and situations. 'limits', in order to witness to Christ and his love to all men and women of all people, all cultures and all social status ”.

The last key expression on which François stops, "You will receive strength when the Holy Spirit comes upon you", invites Christians to always allow themselves to be “strengthened and guided by the Spirit”. He emphasizes this important aspect of Christian life by asserting that no Christian "can bear full and authentic witness to Christ the Lord without the inspiration and help of the Spirit".

At the end of his message, the Pope also referred to several missionary anniversaries that will be celebrated in 2022.

Starting with the 400 years of the institution of the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda Fide. A Congregation which, affirms Francis, “has proven to be crucial in making the evangelizing mission of the Church truly such, that is to say independent of the interference of the powers of the world, in order to establish these local Churches which are showing such vigor today ”.

He also cites the 200th anniversary of the founding of the work for the Propagation of the Faith, as well as the centenary of the pontifical recognition for the Work of Holy Childhood (dedicated to promoting the mission for children) and the Work of Saint Peter the Apostle (who supports seminarians and missionary priests).

Camille Westphal Perrier

Image Credit: Shutterstock / giulio napolitano

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