Reflection for October – MISSION

October is well known in the Christian world for Missionary action within the Church, with October 15 to 22nd being World Mission Week ending with International Mission Day, Sunday October 22nd.  One may ask: what does this mean for our times? Who are our missionaries today? With so few men and women choosing the missionary religious life in our Church in the western world, who do we send today to bring the good news of the Gospel and to proclaim God’s word?  What in fact are we celebrating during this month? What is meant by Mission today?

This year Pope Francis has chosen the theme:  Hearts on fire, feet on the move (cf. Lk 24:13-35). This reminds off the scripture text we all love after Easter with the realisation of the two men walking to Emmaus: “didn’t our hearts burn within us,” they said. That familiar reading has so many clues about mission: firstly as Pope Francis mentions:  “As they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them.” Mission is around us all without us even being aware of it. Just as we pass someone and offer to engage, i.e. smile or greet: that gesture can change someone’s day or even life. In that text Jesus choose to engage and we see what that conversation led to? As Pope Francis tell us: In missionary activity, the word of God illumines and transforms hearts.

Many of us miss opportunities to simply engage and this for most is the essence of missionary activity.  It doesn’t always operate overseas in foreign countries or by “the sacrifices you are making for the mission of evangelisation in distant lands” but here on our streets, towns and communities. Like the two men on their way to Emmaus, they were confused and troubled by the events of the situation in Jerusalem; all their hopes and dreams were now shattered. Like so many of us today, in our broken world, we too have bewilderment, doubts, pessimism and, for some, a simple loss of hope.

Mission begins here and now – Jesus walks beside us and as we reach out to people, so does he. When we speak, his voice is often heard; when we choose to encounter and engage he is there in our midst. Mission for us today is to bring Christ into our world not by big acts of charity and mighty deeds seen by all but by our gentle encounter and recognition that our world and society needs to hear good news. It is us who take the initiative. As Pope Francis says: a cold heart can never make other hearts burn! As a missionary we allow Christ to walk with us enlightening our path and transforming us to be a light for others. “Here it should be remembered that breaking our material bread with the hungry in the name of Christ is already a work of Christian mission.”   We know that when the two men recognised Jesus they turned around and returned to Jerusalem to face whatever was needed to be done in their lives without running from it.

What then is mission today?

In the words for Pope Francis:

“To set out with burning hearts,
with our eyes open and our feet in motion.
Let us set out to make other hearts burn with the word of God,
to open the eyes of others to Jesus in the Eucharist
and to invite everyone to walk together on paths of peace and salvation,
that God, in Christ has bestowed upon all humanity.”
Message of his Holiness Pope Francis for World Mission Day, 2023.                                                                                        Jan 6, 2023. St John Lateran, Rome.

Our Lady and Queen of the Missions, pray for us.


Rose Mary Harbinson, RNDM