While addressing the bishops of Latin America, Pope Francis went on to explain the meaning behind a “Church in a Permanent State of Mission.” He said, “The Gospel speaks of Jesus who, proceeding from the Father, journeys with his disciples through the fields and the towns of Galilee. His journeying is not meaningless. As Jesus walks, he encounters people. When he meets people, he draws near to them. When he draws near to them, he talks to them. When he talks to them, he touches them with his power. When he touches them, he brings them healing and salvation.”
He further commented that, “We cannot let ourselves be paralyzed by our air-conditioned offices, our statistics and our strategies. We have to speak to men and women in their concrete situations; we cannot avert our gaze from them. The mission is carried out by one to one contact.”
When Pope Francis envisions the Church having a “missionary spirit” it is this type of personal encounter that he refers to. He challenges us to imitate Jesus’ example of going out to the people to speak to them of their “concrete situations.”
Indeed, this missionary disposition is a necessary part of our spiritual pathway, the “Way of the Heart.” It is described as, “The call to the mission is the fire that makes us apostles sent from the heart of the Father to the heart of the world.”
As we further reflect on Pope Francis’ challenge, let us consider ways in our local parish that we can assist in realizing a “Permanent State of Mission,” encountering the people of our community and accompanying them in their particular situations.
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