The Apostles were grateful for what they had experienced. That's why they shared it.
“The experience of Jesus pushes us toward others, towards the world, with joy,” said Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, during a presentation of the 95th World Mission Sunday, which will take place on Sunday, October 24.
The zeal that inspired the Apostles came from the experience of the power of God’s love in Jesus, the cardinal reflected.
“They experienced the friendship of Jesus, they heard His Beatitudes, they saw how the poor received the good news, they saw how Jesus touched the sick.”
Cardinal Tagle said that a “gripping … deep experience” of Jesus leads to a “state of mission” that is at the same time a reflection of gratitude. Missionaries, he said, bear the “gospel of compassion and hope” fueled by gratitude.
“So we are reminded this Sunday, this World Mission Sunday, that spirituality, an encounter with the Lord, is always missionary,” Cardinal Tagle said. “And mission is always also spiritually grounded, in an experience that moves us out of ourselves to share Jesus with all the nations.”
Noting the situation of mission work in Asia, he also outlined the advantages and the limits of digital tools in the work of evangelization.
The theme chosen for this World Mission Sunday: “It is impossible for us to be silent about what we have seen and heard!”
Last January, Pope Francis released his message for this day, recalling that the world has an urgent need for “missionaries of hope.”
During the presentation at the Vatican, Cardinal Tagle recalled that Christians who experience the Gospel, and therefore Jesus, cannot then “build walls” which separate them from others.
The former Archbishop of Manila also spoke of the situation of evangelization in Asia, a continent where “two thirds of the world’s inhabitants live.”
“Christians, I believe they are only 3% of this population. And half of this Christian population is in the Philippines.”
But this “small minority” is growing, he added.
“In recent years, we have seen in Asia, in terms of proportion and percentage, an increase in the number of baptisms and also of entries into seminaries and into religious life,” he said.
Now 500 years after their country received the Gospel, Filipinos become missionaries, “and not just religious,” said the senior prelate.
“Our migrants, our migrant workers, our laity, who are scattered all over the world, seek work but also participate in the mission.”
So Asia is in a sense coming to the “age of heirs,” he said. “We have inherited something, we don’t keep it, we also share it with others.”
As for Europe, it has become another “missionary territory.”
During the pandemic, new technologies were of great use, further underlined Cardinal Tagle. “With the confinement and the restrictions in movements and visits to family, even to churches, we had an instrument and were able to maintain a kind of relationship.”
But, he stressed, “There are elements of life that cannot be digitized. […] We are carnal beings, we need contact.”
Beatification of Pauline Jaricot in Lyon
During the conference, Bishop Giampietro Dal Toso, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies (OPM), spoke of various celebrations that will take place in 2022 regarding the mission.
There will be celebrations of the 400 years of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Also, the beatification of Pauline Jaricot on May 22, in Lyon (France). As confirmed by Bishop Dal Toso, Cardinal Tagle will be present there.