Rome (Agenzia Fides) - "The missio ad gentes is the original form, the paradigm and the model that sets up the whole evangelizing mission of the Church because it expresses the proclamation of the Gospel and the sacramental transformation of the world, making all the peoples disciple missionaries of the Lord Jesus. The specificity of the missio ad gentes, within the evangelizing mission of the Church, is found in its peculiar relationship with the not yet personal encounter with Jesus Christ and his Gospel, with the absence of a Christian faith capable of generating new cultures, with women and men whose religions and peoples still yearn for salvation from sin and death in the here and now of human history": this is what Fr. Fabrizio Meroni, PIME, Secretary of the Pontifical Missionary Union, said in a speech delivered, in view of World Mission Day, on the occasion of the opening of the academic year at the Pontifical Theological Faculty "Seraphicum", of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual.
In the lecture entitled "Is there still an interest in missio ad gentes? A pastoral theological reflection", Fr. Meroni - who is also Director of the Missionary Animation International Center and Agenzia Fides - explained: "To know or not to know Christ, to be or not to be baptized, to embrace or not to embrace the Christian faith and to belong or not to belong to the Church, to live or not to live the Gospel of reconciliation and experiment God's forgiveness make the real difference". In fact, the PUM Secretary continued, "in order to collaborate in the salvation of the world, we must love him (cf. Jn 3:16) and be willing to give his life by serving Christ, the only Savior of the world. We do not have a product to sell, but a life to communicate: God, his divine life, his merciful love, his holiness".
Fr. Meroni remarked, with the words of Pope Francis: "It is the Holy Spirit who sends us, accompanies us and inspires us. He is the source of our mission. It is he who guides the Church forward, not us (Pope Francis, Speech to the National Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies, 1 June 2018). Mission, conversion, baptism, faith, love represent the will of the Lord Jesus regarding his Church. Selling a product for religious purposes of profit or increasing the number of followers, manipulating the freedom of people in their deepest material and spiritual needs for salvation, joining religious ideologies and opinions is proselytism".
The mission of Jesus, the heart and motivation of the Church's mission is - instead - communication of divine life: "Giving the life of God the Father, offering the life of the Holy Spirit, sacrificing oneself for life in Christ represents the origin and purpose of mission, from its original form of the missio ad gentes to its fulfillment in the Jerusalem of heaven, dwelling of God among men (cf. Rev. 21)".
And he concluded: "The missio ad gentes, as the first proclamation to people, places and peoples not yet transfigured by the Easter of Jesus, qualifies the evangelization of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit in its inalienable task of penetrating, converting and transfiguring the world until the ends of the earth, so that we can all be saved. The missio ad gentes corresponds to the natural need placed in the heart of every man to be saved, that is to experience the fullness of life in the victory over sin, sickness and death. In the missio ad gentes the Church is led by the salvation of Jesus towards a world that the same God had already created and established in order to be saved in his Son Jesus". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 23/10/2018)