.- Today the Vatican released Pope John Paul II’s message for this year’s annual World Mission Day, which he wrote before his death. The theme of the October 23rd celebration is to be: "Mission: Bread broken for the life of the world." The Holy Father’s message was dated February 22, 2005, Feast of the Chair of St Peter.
It has been published in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese.
In it, the pope wrote that, "World Mission Sunday, in this year dedicated to the Eucharist, helps us to better understand the 'eucharistic' sense of our life as we relive the emotion of the Upper Room when, on the eve of His passion, Jesus offered Himself to the world."
He referred to his recent Apostolic Letter 'Mane nobiscum Domine', in which, he said, “I invited you to contemplate Jesus in the 'breaking of the bread' offered for the whole of humanity.”
Following His example we too are called to offer our life for our brothers and sisters, especially those most in need. ... In this way, while the Eucharist helps us to understand more fully the significance of mission, it leads every individual believer, the missionary in particular, to be 'bread, broken for the life of the world.'”
"In our day”, the Holy Father continued, “human society appears to be shrouded in dark shadows while it is shaken by tragic events and shattered by catastrophic natural disasters. ... Present in the Eucharist, the same Redeemer ... continues through the centuries to show compassion for humanity poor and suffering.”
John Paul noted that, “it is in His name that pastoral workers and missionaries travel unexplored paths to carry the 'bread' of salvation to all.”
“Jesus alone”, he wrote, “can satisfy humanity's hunger for love and thirst for justice; He alone makes it possible for every human person to share in eternal life: 'I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever' (Jn 6,51)."
"We who nourish ourselves with the Body and Blood of the crucified and risen Lord, cannot keep this 'gift' to ourselves,” he wrote.
“On the contrary we must share it. Passionate love for Christ leads to courageous proclamation of Christ; proclamation which, with martyrdom, becomes a supreme offering of love for God and for mankind. The Eucharist leads us to be generous evangelizers, actively committed to building a more just and fraternal world.”
The pope also expressed his sincere “hope the Year of the Eucharist will inspire every Christian community to respond with 'fraternal solicitude to some of the many forms of poverty present in our world" (Mane nobiscum Domine 28), because 'by our mutual love and, in particular, by our concern for those in need we will be recognized as true followers of Christ (cf. Jn 13:35; Mt 25:31-46).”
This will be the criterion by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations is judged.' (Mane nobiscum Domine 28)."
“In Christ's name”, he said, "missionaries all over the world proclaim and witness to the Gospel. ... How many missionary martyrs in our day! May their example draw numerous young men and women to tread the path of heroic fidelity to Christ! The Church has need of men and women willing to consecrate themselves wholly to the great cause of the Gospel.”
Concluding, he wrote that, "World Mission Sunday is an opportune occasion to increase our awareness of the urgent necessity to participate in the evangelizing mission undertaken by the local communities and many Church organizations, in particular the Pontifical Mission Societies and the Missionary Institutes.”
This mission requires the support not only of prayer and sacrifice, but also of concrete material offerings. I take this opportunity to recall once again the valuable service rendered by the Pontifical Mission Societies and I ask you all to support them generously with spiritual and material cooperation."