“Please, may I have a penny for the black babies?” Many of us older people will remember often making such a request of our parents. Without fully realising it we were fulfilling our missionary vocation. Vaguely we understood that our pennies would contribute to spreading the Good News in faraway lands, and help to build up the Church in Africa and elsewhere. Our Catholic primary schools were taking part in the Holy Father’s missionary organization for children – ‘The Pontifical Missionary Childhood Association’, which this year celebrates its 175th anniversary. We were also encouraged to pray for ‘the missions’, and to perform ‘small daily gestures of love and service’.
This year’s message for World Mission Day (October 21st) is addressed particularly to young people, encouraging them to ‘bring the Gospel to all.’ Also in October is the Synod of Bishops – to be held in Rome – which will be devoted to young people, and will hopefully spur the whole Church to a new sense of ‘mission.’
In his Apostolic Exhortation ‘The Joy of the Gospel’ Pope Francis writes of mission as the very reason for our life on earth. Especially when we are young we experience two movements in our hearts: ‘to be attracted’, and ‘to be sent’. These are the movements of love that hold out promise for the future, and give direction to our lives. “The Church can share with you young people the way and truth which give meaning to our life on this earth.” In Jesus we find the treasure that fills life with joy.