A Catholic Monthly Magazine

“That all may have life…”


By Fr. Bernard Espiritu SVD, Director of MissioNZ

Pope Francis has been a gift of God to the Church. Many retire even before they get to their 70s. Mario Cardinal Bergoglio was elected and accepted to become Pope Francis at the age of 76. Instead of concluding his public life as Archbishop and retiring, he responded to the challenge to step forward and begin a new mission. It was surely unexpected, but truly a happy surprise for all, including himself. The Spirit rejuvenated him so that a few months into his Pontificate he unfolded his dreams and hopes that would shape the road before him as pope. He painted the portrait of The Joy of the Gospel – the profound truth that fuels each believer to live one’s life to the fullest.

Pope Francis’ dream is a missionary vision:

I dream of a ‘missionary option,’ that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation. The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light: as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented, to make ordinary pastoral activity on every level more inclusive and open, to inspire in pastoral workers a constant desire to go forth and in this way to elicit a positive response from all those whom Jesus summons to friendship with himself (The Joy of the Gospel, # 27).

This year, on World Mission Sunday – 23 October 2016 – my hope is to reawaken in the heart of believers in New Zealand the core purpose of every Christian, ‘That All May Have Life.’ It is a phrase from the gospel of John chapter 10 verse 10. Jesus was sent among us that all who believe in him may have life. To be sent to a particular people and with a particular purpose is the essence of being a missionary. Come to think about it, for a believer nothing happens by chance. I can nourish the Joy of the Good News (Gospel) in me when I know that I have a purpose where I find myself, and in what I do. Every successful builder works hard to complete his task. After all, was it not that after the Passion and Death of Jesus, came his Resurrection? That All May Have Life is a wonderful spirit for World Mission Sunday; it enables the Joy of the Gospel to become alive.

espiritu-mission-sundayAs the Universal Church soon brings to a close the Year of Mercy, each believer is encouraged to reflect on how the spirit of this Holy Year has been lived. Our Mission Sunday 2016 Poster in New Zealand carries a picture of Pope Francis embracing two children. They are not nameless faces. They are Glyzelle Palomar and Jun Chura. They were living in the cold and dark alleys of Manila for some years because of their poverty. They have gone hungry, sick, abandoned, and even been abused various times. Catholics who work with a Church organization found them and offered them a place in an orphanage and a chance to go to school. They have been offered a chance to truly live and not just exist. They told their stories to Pope Francis when he went to Manila in 2015. Glyzelle broke into tears as she related how she was victimised and abused. It was then that Pope Francis approached and embraced both of them.

The reality of mercy replenishes life for those who have been hurt, offended or betrayed. Only those who can forgive have a future; and those who have been forgiven become once more presents, gifts, to themselves and to others. Mercy stimulates life; it generates enthusiasm to reach out once more. World Mission Sunday reminds us that each one is a missionary: That All May Have Life.

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