Every year on the second-to-the-last Sunday of October the whole Church celebrates World Mission Sunday. This practice began in 1926 when it was established by Pope Pius XI. World
Mission Sunday was described by Blessed John Paul II as ”an important date in the life of the Church because it teaches how to give: as an offering made to God, inthe Eucharistic celebration and for all the mission areas in the developing world” (Redemptoris Missio 81).
When this day of prayer for the “missions” was originally instituted three reasons were given for having such a day on the Church Calendar: ‘The day would foster understanding of the greatness of the missionary task, encourage zeal among the clergy and the people; offer an opportunity to make the Society for the Propagation of the Faith ever more widely known and encourage offering for the missions…’
The bishops at the Second Vatican Council, with a new vision of the missionary nature of the whole Church, wrote in The Decree on Missionary Activity(AG), that: “all the faithful are duty-bound to cooperate in the expansion and spreading out of Christ’s Body, to bring it to fullness as soon as possible” (Eph 4:13)…Therefore, all members of the Church should have a lively awareness of their responsibility to the world; they should foster in themselves a truly Catholic spirit; they should spend themselves in the work of spreading the Gospel” (Ad Gentes 36).
This year we celebrate World Mission Sunday in the context of the Year of Faith and the Synod on the New Evangelization and the Transmission of the Faith. It is indeed faith that is the centerpiece of the missionary nature of the Church. The whole Church is missionary so we are all to be engaged in mission and we are all meant to support the mission of the Church through prayer and sacrifice.
Today, people are not used to talking about sacrifice; yet sacrifice is the fruit of love. When we love we are ready to do whatever is necessary to support the one we love and in this case, the One who has loved us first and who has sent us on mission. Our mission is to share that love with all people. Through the witness of our lives and our generous service we can make Christ known. Let us celebrate World Mission Sunday with joy and a renewed commitment to be on mission wherever we are and support mission everywhere in the world.