I have been reflecting on the Mass texts in the Third Edition of the Roman Missal. Since the liturgy and mission are intimately connected it seems good to tap into the new translation and see how it fits with World Mission Sunday.
I was especially struck by two of the new options for the Dismissal at the end of Mass because they are clearly sending us out on mission:
“Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”
“Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”
Though these will not be in use for this year’s World Mission Sunday they are wonderful homily starters that help us to understand missionary evangelization. They speak of the need for all of us to take every opportunity to make Christ known to people everywhere in the world and to give witness to the difference Christ makes in our lives. We need to be living examples of the freedom, joy and peace that Christ alone can give to us and the world.
Pope Benedict XVI, in his Message for World Mission Sunday, urged all of us to reflect upon the deeper significance of World Mission Sunday:
It is important that both individual baptized people and ecclesial communities be involved in mission, not sporadically or occasionally but in a constant manner, as a form of Christian life. The World Mission Day itself is not an isolated moment in the course of the year, but rather a valuable opportunity to pause and reflect on whether and how we respond to our missionary vocation; an essential response for the Church’s life.
The Holy Father is affirming what the Second Vatican Council taught us in the Decree on Missionary Activity, and that is that the Church is “missionary by its very nature.” We cannot not be on mission! What this very ungrammatical sentence says is that mission is our very identity. Mission is meant to transfuse every area of the Church’s life and our lives as Catholics. This is not a “churchy” activity or simply a second collection, but the way we are to live in the world.
So let us celebrate mission in Christ and the hope he alone offers us; let us support the mission efforts of the Church throughout the world and be on mission wherever we are and through whatever we do. In this way we live out our baptismal vocation as missionary disciples, understand the meaning of World Mission Sunday and our part in this marvelous mission to proclaim Christ to all people, everywhere!