By editor - 17 May, 2016
In his message for World Mission Day next October, Pope Francis highlighted the work done by women missionaries and the importance of evangelising in times of crisis, injustice and war.
On Pentecost Sunday, the Pope said the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy invites the faithful “to consider the missio ad gentes – the mission to the world – as a great, immense work of mercy, both spiritual and material.”
World Mission Sunday, he continued, calls the Church “to ‘go out’ as missionary disciples, each generously offering their talents, creativity, wisdom and experience in order to bring the message of God’s tenderness and compassion to the entire human family.”
“By virtue of the missionary mandate, the Church cares for those who do not know the Gospel, because she wants everyone to be saved and to experience the Lord’s love.”
Pope Francis emphasised the role of women in missionary work, noting the “considerable and growing presence of women in the missionary world” which he described as “a significant sign of God’s maternal love.”
“This merciful love, as in the early days of the Church, is witnessed to by many men and women of every age and condition.”
“The considerable and growing presence of women in the missionary world, working alongside their male counterparts, is a significant sign of God’s maternal love.”
“Women, lay and religious, and today even many families, carry out their missionary vocation in various forms: from announcing the Gospel to charitable service.”
“Together with the evangelising and sacramental work of missionaries, women and families often more adequately understand people’s problems and know how to deal with them in an appropriate and, at times, fresh way: in caring for life, with a strong focus on people rather than structures, and by allocating human and spiritual resources towards the building of good relations, harmony, peace, solidarity, dialogue, cooperation and fraternity, both among individuals and in social and cultural life, in particular through care for the poor.”
He spoke, too, of the importance of education, adding, “I hope, therefore, that the holy people of God will continue to exercise this maternal service of mercy, which helps those who do not yet know the Lord to encounter and love Him.”
Elsewhere, the Pope said that when mercy encounters a person, it brings deep joy to the Father’s heart; for from the beginning the Father has lovingly turned towards the most vulnerable, because his greatness and power are revealed precisely in his capacity to identify with the young, the marginalized and the oppressed.
He is a kind, caring and faithful God who is close to those in need, especially the poor; he involves himself tenderly in human reality just as a father and mother do in the lives of their children.
The Pope noted that when speaking of the womb, the Bible uses the word that signifies mercy: therefore it refers to the love of a mother for her children, whom she will always love, in every circumstance and regardless of what happens, because they are the fruit of her womb.
“This is also an essential aspect of the love that God has for all his children, whom he created and whom he wants to raise and educate; in the face of their weaknesses and infidelity, his heart is overcome with compassion. He is merciful towards all; his love is for all people and his compassion extends to all creatures.”
Pope Francis said, “All peoples and cultures have the right to receive the message of salvation which is God’s gift to every person.”
Jesus’ command to preach the Gospel to all nations has not ceased, he concluded: “rather this command commits all of us, in the current landscape with all its challenges, to hear the call to a renewed missionary ‘impulse’.”