.- Prior to praying the Angelus with thousands of pilgrims and faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI took a moment to reflect on World Mission Day and the work done by missionaries around the world.
The Pope recalled how World Mission Day was established by Pius XI who, during the Jubilee Year 1925, promoted a large exhibition on missionary work which later became the nucleus of the Vatican Museums' ethnological-missionary collection.
Reflecting on the theme of this year’s World Mission Day, “Charity, Soul of the Mission,” Pope Benedict emphasized that missions, "if not driven by love, are reduced to a philanthropic and social activity." Christian missions, in contrast to other secular social aid projects, must be inspired by the words of St. Paul, “the love of Christ impels us (2 Cor 5:14)."
“All baptized people," he continued, "like shoots attached to the vine, can thus cooperate in Jesus' mission: ... bringing everyone the good news that God is love and, precisely for this reason, wants to save the world. The mission begins in the heart.”
This cooperation with the good news, the Pope noted, “is what happened 800 years ago to the young Francis of Assisi in the chapel of St. Damian, which was then a ruin. From the height of the Cross ... Francis heard Jesus tell him: 'Go, repair My house, which as you see is in ruins'."
The Holy Father indicated the different was this “house” of God was in need of repair. The “house” was first Francis' own life, which he had "to 'repair' through a true conversion.” Second, “it was the Church, not built of bricks but of living people, in constant need of purification.” And third, the Pope noted, “it was also the entirety of humanity, in which God loves to dwell."
"The mission is, then, a workshop with room for everyone: for people committed to fulfilling the Kingdom of God in their own family; for people who live their professional lives with a Christian spirit; for people totally consecrated to the Lord; ... for people who go out with the specific intention of announcing Christ to those who do not yet know Him,” the Pope concluded. “May Mary Most Holy help us to experience ... the joy and courage of the mission!".