Pontiff Links Missionaries' Work to Love
Gives Address on World Mission Sunday
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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 22, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says that to be a missionary means "to take the good news to every person that 'God is love.'"
"If the mission is not inspired by love, it is reduced to philanthropic and social activity," the Pope said on the occasion of the 80th World Mission Sunday. He made that observation at midday, when praying the Angelus from the window of his study with the 30,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square.
The motto of the message, which as usual the Holy Father wrote for this Day, is "Charity, Soul of the Mission."
"The mission arises from the heart," said the Pontiff on a mild autumn day in Rome. "When one pauses to pray before a crucifix, looking at that pierced side, one cannot but feel within oneself the joy of knowing that one is loved and the desire to love and to make oneself an instrument of mercy and reconciliation."
By way of example, Benedict XVI mentioned the experience 800 years ago of the young Francis of Assisi, in the dilapidated church of San Damiano.
He heard the voice from the crucifix which said: "Go, repair my house, as you can see it is in ruins."
"That 'house' was above all his own life, which had to be 'repaired' through an authentic conversion," said the Pope, "it was the Church, not the one made of bricks, but of living people, which always needs purification. It was also the whole of humanity, in whom God wills to make his dwelling.
"The mission is always born from a heart transformed by the love of God, as witnessed by innumerable histories of saints and martyrs, who in different ways have spent their lives at the service of the Gospel."
"Therefore, the mission is a source in which there is room for all," according to their various states in life, the Holy Father continued.
The Pope added that there is room in the mission "for those who commit themselves to realize the kingdom of God in their own homes; for those who live their professional work with a Christian spirit; for those who consecrate themselves totally to the Lord; for those who follow Jesus the Good Shepherd in the ordained ministry to the People of God; for those who go specifically to proclaim Christ to those who do not yet know him."