In his message for World Mission Sunday 2017, Pope Francis said that mission inspires a spirituality of constant exodus, pilgrimage and exile: “We are exiles journeying towards our final home, the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Having read the above statements and the whole message, I thought about hope as necessary in our missionary pilgrimage, and a beautiful document of Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, came to my mind. It is entitled Saved by Hope and, I believe, it is just as relevant today as it was when it was written in 2007. It says that it is by hope that we are saved and in hope we find the basic source of internal energy to go on living with faith and enthusiasm, and for the mission we are called to accomplish.
I consider this point of great importance these days when so many people have fallen into pessimism and maybe also despair. They believe that we are going from bad to worse, and that to reach the bottom of the pit of evil will be very difficult because there are several crazy and irresponsible individuals, often assembled in groups, who go on digging.
Fortunately, God is different and is the greatest dreamer. He hopes and waits for our decision to start a more intense journey of conversion and action for a world renewed. God hopes that all of humanity will finally open to Christ for a beautiful experience of salvation.
Conditions For Hope
Within the mission of the Church, we are called to answer generously to this divine hope, making God’s plan of salvation our own. To do this, I believe, there are three concrete conditions:
1. Overcoming the temptation to feel like victims
This temptation is very pervasive in today’s society and paralyses many people. “The world – they say – has become so dirty with all kinds of evil, that there is nothing we can do for its transformation.” To accomplish the mission we have been entrusted with by God, we must react to this temptation in the conviction that God gives each one of us the strength we need in order to live and act in a creative way.
2. Being open to the risks involved in change and in growth
Life implies always dynamism and often a movement towards the unknown, as in the life of Abraham which comes often to my mind; after the call by God, he put himself on the move without knowing where he was going to settle down. Starting his journey, Abraham was free to leave the world of his securities, with its comfort zones, and to move towards the unknown.
I see the same attitude in Pope Francis these days: he has abandoned himself to God like clay in the hands of a potter. He has been misunderstood and criticized, but he goes on open to the risks of change, of growth and, I would say, of God. God offers courage to us as a gift, waiting for us to develop it as a skill in mission.
3. Embracing a genuine journey of interior freedom
We all run the risk to become slaves of fashions that come and go, of our instincts, of publicity, of sin. In order to be interiorly free we need a spiritual discipline which enables us to go against the current and to celebrate life. For this God gives us His strength.
Will God’s hope receive a positive answer form us? Let us say yes in order to give joy to the heart of God and to ourselves and to accomplish our mission.