Pope Francis: Christian Mission to Give ‘Fresh Air’ to Those Living in ‘the Pollution of Our World’

Master of Pontifical Liturgical ceremonies, Italian priest Guido Marini (R) hands a crucifix to Pope Francis during a mass as part of World Mission Sunday on October 20, 2019 at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP) (Photo by VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)
VINCENZO PINTO/AFP

ROME — Pope Francis employed ecological language to describe the Christian mission Sunday, summarizing the task of Jesus’ disciples as giving “pure and fresh air to those immersed in the pollution of our world.”

In his homily on World Mission Sunday, the pope reflected on the Great Commission Jesus gave his disciples, insisting that the witness of a holy life is more important than pretty words.

“What instructions does the Lord give us for going forth to others?” the pope queried. “Only one, and very simple: make disciples. But, be careful: his disciples, not our own.”

As he has done repeatedly, Francis distinguished between “hard sell” proselytizing and bearing humble witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ.

“The Church proclaims the Gospel well only if she lives the life of a disciple. And a disciple follows the Master daily and shares the joy of discipleship with others,” he said. “Not by conquering, mandating, proselytizing, but by witnessing, humbling oneself alongside other disciples and offering with love the love that we ourselves received.”

Tying the missionary mandate to his constant calls to an ecological “conversion,” the pontiff compared the gospel message to fresh air.

“This is our mission: to give pure and fresh air to those immersed in the pollution of our world; to bring to earth that peace which fills us with joy whenever we meet Jesus on the mountain in prayer; to show by our lives, and perhaps even by our words, that God loves everyone and never tires of anyone,” he said.

“Each of us has and is a mission on this earth,” Francis said. “We are here to witness, bless, console, raise up, and radiate the beauty of Jesus. Have courage!”

The pope also suggested that Jesus’ command to make disciples of all the nations underscores the universality of the Christian message as well as its inclusiveness.

“The Lord is deliberate in repeating the word all,” Francis said. “He knows that we are always using the words ‘my’ and ‘our’: my things, our people, our community… But he constantly uses the word all. All, because no one is excluded from his heart, from his salvation; all, so that our heart can go beyond human boundaries and particularism based on a self-centeredness that displeases God.”

“Go and show love to everyone, because your life is a precious mission: it is not a burden to be borne, but a gift to offer. Have courage, and let us fearlessly go forth to all!” he concluded.

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