Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Agenzia Fides) - "What is missionary work?". Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Special Envoy of the Holy Father Francis at the celebrations of the Fifth American Missionary Congress (CAM 5), dedicated the central part of his homily to this question, during the Mass of inauguration of the continental missionary event, celebrated yesterday afternoon, Tuesday 10 July, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
Citing the first reading of the Mass, the Cardinal recalled first of all that "that of Abraham is a paradigmatic history, that is, an exemplary model, in which we always find God as the one who takes the initiative, who asks for the collaboration of the human being, man or woman, and adherence to his project; the answer comes through the willingness to cooperate, obeying God. It should not be forgotten that God’s project brings with it a blessing ... The history of God's salvation, therefore, always and constantly brings God's blessing".
Asking the Lord's blessing at the beginning of every important initiative, such as the missionary who starts a new mission, or the son who leaves his father's house to pursue his opportunities, is an important biblical gesture, which is appropriate even at the beginning of the Fifth American Missionary Congress: we need God’s blessing - said Cardinal Filoni - "to understand well and carry forward the work that Jesus left to his disciples at the time of his return to the Father".
At this point the Prefect of the Missionary Dicastery stressed the need to answer the question "What is missionary work? This is the question we need an answer to; because if we do not know what it is, even what we do risks being something else", and continued: "The missionary work has above all a heart, a center, a name: Jesus, which, according to Jewish terminology, means «God is help»... In the name of Jesus there is all God’s blessing for humanity. I would like to insist on this point so that it is clear that missionary work is above all a blessing for all those to whom the name of the Lord is announced. We must be aware of this in order to exclude the fact that missionary work is not philanthropy or even 'our' works of good will. The same works of good, of education, of support, defense for those mistreated, of charity, of justice, of preference for the poor, the marginalized and towards all the real and existential suburbs, as Pope Francis clearly uses, have the name of Jesus as an indissoluble link and therefore everything is a blessing".
Consequently "every missionary activity is both proclamation and witness" the Cardinal continued: an announcement of Jesus, of his work, of his love, of his tenderness and witness of life. "Today it is essential to be credible, but not for the multiplicity of words, but for the witness of life in Christ. From this existential experience comes the motivation, as St. Paul says in the second Letter to the Corinthians that leads to that caritas which is missionary life".
At this point the Cardinal cited the great example of Blessed Mother Maria Ignazia di Gesù, whose relics were present at the celebration: she felt the Lord was calling her and discovered an immense love for the missionary apostolate. She founded a new Institute, the Crusader Missionaries of the Church. "On October 14, Pope Francis will canonize this extraordinary woman - he concluded - an authentic missionary of our times and I think it is a great thing that this Congress takes place on the eve of her canonization".
In the final part of the homily, the Holy Father's Special Envoy highlighted: "Today we celebrate the inauguration of this important American ecclesial event, because, after Maracaibo, it allows us to take stock of our missionary commitment and allows us to take new impetus, renewed in the ardor and passion for Christ. To love this American land means to give it the gift of blessed Jesus. I believe that this constitutes the true blessing, renewed and consecrated by Jesus. A blessing of which we are bearers for the love we have for these people: the poor, the unemployed, the marginalized in particular and those who have hunger and thirst for justice". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 11/7/2017)