The missionary is the Christ who constantly passes through the world
(Blessed Paolo Manna)
Christ sends missionaries
From the Gospel according to John and according to Matthew
“[Jesus] said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’” (Jn 20:21)
“Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, ‘Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you. Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.’” (Mt 10:1,5-14)
From the Magisterium of the Catholic Church
“As the Son was sent by the Father, so He too sent the Apostles, saying: ‘Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world’. The Church has received this solemn mandate of Christ to proclaim the saving truth from the apostles and must carry it out to the very ends of the earth.” (Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 17)
“In His gracious goodness, God has seen to it that what He had revealed for the salvation of all nations would abide perpetually in its full integrity and be handed on to all generations. Therefore Christ the Lord in whom the full revelation of the supreme God is brought to completion (see 2 Cor. 1:20; 3:13; 4:6), commissioned the Apostles to preach to all men that Gospel which is the source of all saving truth and moral teaching, and to impart to them heavenly gifts.” (Paul VI, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, 7)
“This people which God has chosen and called is the Church. Jesus did not tell the apostles to form an exclusive and elite group. He said: ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’ (Mt 28:19). Saint Paul tells us in the people of God, in the Church, ‘there is neither Jew or Greek... for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Gal 3:28). To those who feel far from God and the Church, to all those who are fearful or indifferent, I would like to say this: the Lord, with great respect and love, is also calling you to be a part of his people!” (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World, Evangelii Gaudium, 113)
From the writings of Blessed Father Paolo Manna
“Just as the apostles in a remote corner of Galilee one day received from Our Lord the divine mandate to go and preach the gospel to the peoples, so you, my beloved [...] will receive the mandate to continue the work of those fortunate ones who were first called.” (P. Manna, Chiamati alla santità, Naples 1977, p. 235)
“In founding the Church Jesus Christ instituted the apostolate. The Savior placed His heart and all of Himself in that institution: ‘as the Father has sent Me, so I send you’ (Jn 20:21). The apostolate is the continuation of the work of Jesus Christ; it is the channel through which the Christian faith flows and spreads throughout the world.” (P. Manna, Operarii autem pauci! La vocazione alle missioni estere, Milan 1960, op. cit., p. 13)
“The missionary is the Christ who constantly passes through the world.” (P. Manna, Operarii autem pauci! La vocazione alle missioni estere, Milan 1960, op. cit., p. 13)
“The apostle, the Missionary, is Jesus Christ who goes from land to land, from country to country to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. [...] Jesus Christ is not dead: He lives in heaven, He lives on the altars. In a different way, though, He lives and walks through the world in the apostles, spreading His light among the darkness.” (P. Manna, Operarii autem pauci! La vocazione alle missioni estere, Milan 1960, op. cit., p. 14)
“The first great religious mission entrusted to men took place when Our Lord, a little while before His Ascension, sent His Apostles throughout the entire world to continue His work of redemption.” (P. Manna, The conversion of the pagan world. A Treatise upon Catholic Foreign Missions, translated and adapted from the Italian of rev. Paolo Manna, M. Ap. by rev. Joseph F. McGlinchey, d.d., Boston, Society for the propagation of the Faith 1921, p. 4)
Questions for reflection
- To what extent do I truly feel I am a disciple of Christ, chosen and sent by Him? How often do I thank God for this grace?
- In my daily life, am I a clear and distinct sign of my being a disciple of Christ?
- In what aspects is my apostolate already similar to Jesus' behavior, and in what aspects is unity with the Master still lacking? How can I change for the better?
Lord, who sent the apostles to continue your work of salvation, we humbly ask you to awaken in all those who belong to your Church a deep awareness of being your disciples and a true missionary drive. Grant us to proclaim you by word and witness to those who have not yet known you and to those who have stopped believing.
We pray, let there be many missionary vocations and with your grace. Lord, support missionaries in the work of evangelization. Make each of us feel responsible for missions and, above all, help us understand that one's first duty in spreading the faith is at the heart of the Christian life. Amen