Pope Benedict XVI said that World Mission Sunday is an opportunity for Catholics to to reflect on the Church's mission to bring Christ's message and love to “every people, culture, race and nationality.”
Authentic Christian mission recognizes that God's love cross all geographical borders and boundaries of culture, the Pope said in a message prepared for the annual day of prayer and promotion of the Church’s missionary activity, to be celebrated this year on Oct. 24.
“The Father calls us to be sons and daughters, loved in the beloved Son, and to recognize that we are all brothers and sisters in (Christ), who is the gift of salvation for humanity,” the Pope reflected.
The Pope said that while “discord and sin” divide humanity, members of the Church are called to bear witness by the example of their lives and to promote a “new humanism founded on the Gospel of Jesus.” The demonstration of authentic love, he said, gives credibility to the words of the Gospel, both in its historic centers and in remote lands.
This proclamation of God's love in Christ, he emphasized, is “a duty of the whole Church” which is “by her very nature missionary.” While some individuals experience a particular call to proclaim this message as clergy, catechists, or lay missionaries, others participate in the universal mission to “offer signs of hope and to become universal brethren.” In all circumstances, he said, “the Gospel is a leaven of freedom and progress” and “a source of brotherhood.”
Pope Benedict stressed that the task of foreign missions “cannot be fulfilled without a … community and pastoral conversion” involving “all diocesan and parish communities.” The local church's celebration of the Eucharist, he explained, both calls and enables its members “to promote the proclamation of the Gospel in the heart of … every people, culture, race and nationality in every place.”
Pope Benedict expressed special gratitude of “missionaries who bear witness to the coming of the Kingdom of God in the most remote and challenging places, often with their lives.” Describing them as the “vanguard of the Gospel's proclamation,” he urged all members of the Church to support the work of the Pontifical Missionary Societies through prayer and the gift of their resources.