“Today we ask the Lord to become missionaries in the Church, apostles in the Church but in this spirit: a great magnanimity and also a great humility.” – Pope Francis
Many people throughout the world whether Catholic or not have been affected by the humility of Pope Francis. His witness calls us to more, a more generous spirit that is not tied to things or honors or what we desire, but is instead showing love of God and love of neighbor in what we do and in what we say. This witness is not meant to be held within our families, among our friends, or in our churches. We are sent as apostles, as witnesses of faith and charity to a world that is in need of hope. Faith grounds us in the One who is beyond us all but is also the One who knows us better than we know ourselves, God, who is Infinite Love. We are called to share this love in our acts of charity, justice, and service – building up a broken world not for ourselves or our own benefit, but as co-workers in the mission of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
The type of kingdom is the one brought forth in our world by Jesus Christ. The preface for Mass today offers us some insight. Christ’s kingdom is:
an eternal and universal kingdom,
a kingdom of truth and life,
a kingdom of holiness and grace,
a kingdom of justice, love and peace.
As number 31 of Lumen Gentium teaches, all of the baptized are “sharers” in this kingly mission of Christ. How? By growing in holiness and working toward a more just and virtuous society (CCC, 908-909). This work is not simply in word, but most especially in deed.
Apostles, or missionary disciples, are sent then to not only preach, but to heal (Luke 9:2;10:9). Our world is in need of so much healing. Look anywhere in the world and it seems that destruction and hate are much more present than life-giving love. We can and must be bearers of love! If we, as people of faith, as Catholics, are not apostles of faith and charity, then who do we expect to do it? What are we waiting for, an invitation? Look again at the quote above – it is not only a prayer, it is an invitation by Pope Francis to generously and humbly give of ourselves to Christ and to others. It is part of our sharing in the kingly mission of Jesus Christ.
Faith is not meant to be kept to ourselves or locked in our churches, it is meant to be shared in word and deed. We are challenged then to deepen continuously our formation so that we may more fully embrace our being sent as apostles of faith and charity, doing what is said at the end of Mass – “Go, glorifying the Lord by your life.”
Fr. Frank Donio, S.A.C., is Director of the Catholic Apostolate Center and teaches for Saint Joseph’s College Online.
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This blog post was first published on November 23 on the St. Joseph’s College of Maine Theology Faculty Blog. Click here to learn more about our cooperative alliance with St. Joseph’s College Online