Learning to be a missionary takes place in a context and attitude of love for people who do not know or follow Christ. It requires being open to the ideas and perspectives of others and suspending our personal, cultural and religious ideas to listen to their experience. The path to mission is paved with compassion and empathy.
Learning to be a missionary also means trying to see our parishes through the eyes of the unchurched, feeling their hearts when they participate in our celebrations, putting ourselves in their shoes when they visit our church for the first time. Would they understand the vocabulary used in the homily? Would someone notice their presence and make them feel welcome? If we want to become a missional Church, should we not conceive and foster for them a church experience that is exciting, personal, welcoming, relevant and that allows an encounter with the sacred, an encounter with Jesus living and dwelling among us? Let us draw from God’s infinite reserve of mercy for the suffering and the lost and share the Gospel with actions and words that will touch their hearts.
And as we see our society and its lifestyles modelled on materialism, consumerism, hedonism and the accumulation of wealth, may we be brave enough to seek God’s interests which are peace, reconciliation, love and the eternal salvation of our neighbours. Yes, may we lay it all down and follow Jesus.
We pray that this pastoral year will be one of broadening and deepening our outward focus towards those who do not know or do not follow Christ so that we not only talk about mission and evangelization but that we find and implement ways to respond boldly, in deeds and words, to the spiritual poverty and hunger of those around us.
Pierre-Alain Giffard, Director of Pastoral Work