‘Mission is not our Work, but God’s’- Pope Francis
Mission, like communion, “is above all a mystery of grace”. Mission “is not our work, but God’s; we do not do it alone, but moved by the Spirit and docile to his action”. Thus Pope Francis once again suggested to the entire Church what is the living source of every apostolic work. Pope Francis received in audience the members of the Conference of Missionary Institutes in Italy (CIMI – a body set up in 1972 to bring together and coordinate the work of religious realities born in Italy following a specific missionary charisma). The announcement – the Pope remarked – for the Church “is not an optional or a marginal aspect”, but “a vital dimension, inasmuch as it was born apostolic and missionary”.
The mission “is oxygen for the Christian life, which without it becomes sick and withers and it gets ugly, ugly”. Mission and communion – added the Successor of Peter – “spring from prayer, are shaped day by day by listening to the Word of God – listening done in prayer – and have as their ultimate goal the salvation of the brothers and sisters whom the Lord entrusts to us. Without these foundations – added the Bishop of Rome – they become empty and end up being reduced to a mere sociological or welfare dimension. And the Church is not interested in providing assistance… Helping yes, but first of all evangelising, bearing witness: if you provide assistance, let it come from testimony, not from proselytizing methods”.
In the concluding part of his speech, recalling a passage from the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, Pope Francis also remarked that “mission is not a business or a corporate project, nor a humanitarian organization or proselytizing. It is ‘something much deeper, which escapes all measure’. This is an invitation to spend with commitment, creativity and generosity, but without getting discouraged if the results do not correspond to expectations; to give the best of oneself, without sparing oneself, but then entrusting everything with trust to the hands of the Father; to give it our all, but leaving it to him to make our efforts fruitful as he wishes”.
The Conference of Italian Missionary Institutes is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its foundation. It currently brings together 14 missionary religious institutes, 6 for women and 8 for men. Addressing the members of the Conference, received in the Sala Clementina, Pope Francis exhorted them to ensure that “may not only your life and your missionary work, but also your planning, meetings and decisions always be marked by listening to the Word, by the Eucharistic celebration and by prayer. Together and individually, entrust everything to God, purifying your hearts and the institutions in which you work of everything that can hinder the free and creative action of the Spirit”. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 12/5/2023)