World Mission Day: All must play a role in spreading the Gospel, Pope proclaims


The Holy Father’s message for the 82nd World Mission Day was released this past Saturday.  In it, Pope Benedict emphasizes the need to proclaim the Gospel while identifying the Pauline Year as “an opportunity” to spread the Good News “unto the ends of the earth.”

The 82nd World Mission Day will be celebrated on October 19, 2008.  In the Pope’s address, he explains that the current international situations of violence, poverty, discrimination, persecution, environmental concerns, and attacks on human life reveal that “humanity is suffering, it awaits true liberty, it awaits a new and better world, it awaits ‘redemption’.”

"Is there hope for the future?  Or rather, is there a future for humanity?”  The Holy Father asks.  For those who believe in Christ, “the answer to these questions comes from the Gospel…Christ is our future.” 

This is a teaching that St. Paul understood when he proclaimed that “only in Christ can humanity find redemption and hope."

“For the love of Christ,” St. Paul "tramped the roads of the Roman empire as herald, apostle, announcer and master of the Gospel, of which he proclaimed himself to be 'an ambassador in chains'," the Pope writes.

Similarly, "only from this source can we draw the concentration, the tenderness, the compassion, the openness, the readiness, the concern for the problems of people, and those other virtues that messengers of the Gospel need in order to leave everything and devote themselves completely and unconditionally to spreading the perfume of Christ's charity in the world."

Though the Church may appear to be facing trying times, “such difficulties as a shortage of priests and a lack of vocations, Christ's mandate to evangelize all people remains a priority," Pope Benedict writes.

"Let us cast out our nets without fear, trusting in His constant help.”  Like St. Paul, we “are called to reach out to those who are far off and who do not yet know Christ," he writes, noting that Church leaders have the duty of "willingly contributing, each according to his capacities, in sending priests and lay people to other Churches for the service of evangelization."

The Holy Father encourages all the faithful to participate in the Church’s call to evangelize.  He asks priests "to be generous pastors and enthusiastic evangelizers,” expressing the hope that "this missionary commitment in local Churches does not diminish despite the lack of priests."

Addressing the consecrated religious, the Pontiff exhorts them to carry “the announcement of the Gospel to everyone, especially to those furthest away, by a coherent witness in Christ and a radical adherence to the Gospel.”

The Holy Father also calls on lay people to evangelize: “You too, dear lay people, are called to play an ever more important role in spreading the Gospel."

He concludes his message noting the importance of prayer.  “Finally, may Christians intensify their prayers, the indispensable spiritual means for spreading the light of Christ among all peoples, 'the true light' that illuminates 'all the shadows of history’.”