MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
FOR WORLD MISSION DAY 2020
Here am I, send me (Is 6:8)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I wish to express my gratitude to God for the commitment with which the Church throughout the world carried out the Extraordinary Missionary Month last October. I am convinced that it stimulated missionary conversion in many communities on the path indicated by the theme: “Baptized and Sent: the Church of Christ on Mission in the World”.
Ephesians 4:7-16; Luke 13:1-9
In the reading for today, Paul tells the Ephesians about the unique gifts God has given each so that they might fulfill God’s plan. Just as it was for the Ephesians, it is up to each of us to discern what God is calling us to do with those gifts. This is a lifelong process, not just the call to a certain profession or way of life, but the many calls within that profession or way of life and the calls in all of our activities and encounters with others.
In the Gospel, Jesus is reminding his listeners that they are good at predicting the weather from present “appearances of the earth and the skies.” Since this is so, Jesus warns us that it would be hypocritical refusing to foresee and not to predict the results of our cowardly conduct. And the hypocrisy becomes critical when our conscience refuses to control these divisive tendencies.
"I have come to light a fire on the earth. How I wish the blaze were ignited!
I have a baptism to receive. What anguish I feel till it is over!"
These are some of the most exciting and challenging words of Jesus. Too often Jesus is made into a calming, comforting, anesthetizing person. He asks that we love, but he seems to do it in such a pleasant and undemanding way. Today we can really feel the passion of Jesus. He is restless in his desire to ignite a fire. He's on a mission. It is deep inside of him, coming out of the fire within him. His desire is to draw us in, to enflame our hearts, to have us ablaze with his mission, with our passion.
“From everyone to whom much as been given, much will be required; and from the one whom much as been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” Luke 12:48
Demanded? Required? Ok, God. Can I ask a favor? Could you soften those words just a little? Demanded sounds so… harsh.. How about asked? And instead of required, could you maybe substitute preferred? It sounds too much like you are reviewing my wonderful and happy life and are looking down on me saying, “Now it’s payback time.” I want you to be an easy God, one who doesn’t ask a lot except that I “be good.”
No matter how nasty things seem, God's grace always will prevail. I want to trust in that. But the world makes it difficult. I want to be awake to God's love and power.
You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you.
Jesus’ parable in today’s liturgy puts me face-to-face with a key issue for my faith life: What is my relationship with the gifts that God has given to me? Or, another way of putting it, what are my riches, my wealth and how am I invited by God to relate to them? In the gospel story the rich man built bigger and better barns to store away the spectacular harvest and then he told himself, “Relax! Eat heartily, drink well. Enjoy yourself.”
Isaiah 45:1, 4-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b; Matthew 22:15-21
What Belongs to God?
The answer given by Jesus to those who questioned him in an attempt to entrap him sounds like a clever way out of a no-win situation. If Jesus says that taxes should be paid, he is a friend of the Romans. If he says that taxes should not be paid, he is a trouble maker. The famous “repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God” then appears as a convenient dodging of the question.