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Mission Today

Diary - In So Many Words

In So Many Words

By Fr. Bobby Gilmore

“A Christian world and a world yet to be evangelized. That situation no longer exists. The people who have not yet heard the gospel no longer live in non-western countries. They are everywhere especially in huge urban areas. In large cities new paradigms are needed. We are not in Christian times.” (Pope Francis) In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, Pope Paul VI speaks specifically of the evangelizing mission of migrants. Take a Christian or a handful of Christians who, in the midst of their community, show their capacity for understanding and acceptance, their sharing of life and destiny with other people, and their solidarity with the efforts of all for whatever is noble and good.

A globe of the world hanging from a standLet us suppose that, in addition, they radiate in an altogether simple and unaffected way their faith in values that go beyond current values, and their hope in something that is not seen and that one would not dare to imagine. Through this wordless witness, these Christians stir irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live: Why are they like this? Why do they live this way? Why or whom inspires them? Why are they in our midst? Such a witness is already a silent proclamation of the good news and a very powerful and effective one. Here, we have an initial act of evangelization.

Mission today is beyond geography. Migration is the human heart on a journey of hope. Hope is the dynamic force in a pandemic-ridden world.

Pope Paul VI introduced a new era of mission linked to the energy of the time, urbanization, and local and international migration. As in the past, mission went with human movement. Pope Paul recognized the emergence of a new human energy: migration.

It is the same today. Coming from today’s undeveloped, incoherent world and seeing skylines of the rich world, they are saying what immigrants said to themselves in the past: if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere. Immigrants are the energy band in today’s world. They energize economies at home with their remittances and away with their energy and ingenuity. Their arrival energizes local Christian communities, mosques and temples. They are the new force of evangelization, the new messengers to the new ad gentes (Europe/West).

Mission today is related to issues, building bridges, solidarity, and resolving tensions. Mission today is beyond geography. Migration is the human heart on a journey of hope. Hope is the dynamic force in a pandemic-ridden world.

Authentic mission must be asking: who are the excluded? Who is denied contributive justice? The severest poverty is that of not being wanted. Mission now is about encounter, welcome and witness expressed in a wide range of new informal participatory ministries challenging dehumanizing secular liberalism in which the market is God, profit is sanctifying grace, heaven is homeowner occupied, to be poor is to be damned, excluded.

“The Church is called to remind everyone that for God, no one is a foreigner or excluded. It is called to awaken consciences dormant in indifference to the reality of migrants.” (Pope Francis)

Columban Fr. Bobby Gilmore lives and works in Ireland.