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Pope Francis says COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity for mission and service to others

Mission: Capuchin Franciscan Brother Andrew Corriente hands out food to those in need in Washington, during the coronavirus pandemic. Christians are called by God to take part in the church’s mission in the world to help those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis wrote in a message for World Mission Sunday 2020. Photo: CNS

WHILE isolation, social distancing and economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic prove to be a challenge, Christians are called by God to take part in the church’s mission in the world, Pope Francis wrote in a message for World Mission Sunday 2020.

“The impossibility of gathering as a church to celebrate the Eucharist has led us to share the experience of the many Christian communities that cannot celebrate Mass every Sunday,” the Pope wrote in his message, which was released by the Holy See on May 31.

“In all of this, God’s question: ‘Whom shall I send?’ is addressed once more to us and awaits a generous and convincing response: ‘Here am I, send me,’” he said.

World Mission Sunday will be celebrated October 18.

In his message, the Pope said that despite the suffering and challenges posed by COVID-19, the church’s “missionary journey” continues.

Although pain and death “make us experience our human frailty,” it also serves as a reminder of “our deep desire for life and liberation from evil.”

“In this context, the call to mission, the invitation to step out of ourselves for love of God and neighbour presents itself as an opportunity for sharing, service and intercessory prayer,” he wrote.

“The mission that God entrusts to each one of us leads us from fear and introspection to a renewed realisation that we find ourselves precisely when we give ourselves to others.”

To be a “church on the move,” he said, is neither a program nor “an enterprise to be carried out by sheer force of will,” but rather follows the prompting of the Holy Spirit “who pushes you and carries you.”

Pope Francis said the celebration of World Mission Sunday offered an opportunity to reaffirm that one’s prayers, reflections and offerings were ways “to participate actively in the mission of Jesus in his church.”

He also reminded Christians that the mission of evangelisation was “a free and conscious response to God’s call” that could only be discerned by one’s “personal relationship of love with Jesus present in his church.”

“In all of this, God’s question, ‘Whom shall I send?’ is addressed once more to us and awaits a generous and convincing response: ‘Here am I, send me,’” the Pope said.

“God continues to look for those whom he can send forth into the world and to the nations to bear witness to his love, his deliverance from sin and death, his liberation from evil.”

CNS

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