By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The most desolate places in the world in need of Christ are where people are indifferent, even hostile to God and his love, Pope Francis said.
The church’s mission is to bring the faith to the ends of the earth, he said, especially to these “extreme peripheries,” and to use the many means possible, including social networks, he said.
The pope’s remarks came in his message for World Mission Sunday, which will be celebrated Oct. 21. This year’s message, titled “Together with young people, let us bring the Gospel to all,” was dedicated to young people.
In the message, released at the Vatican May 19, Pope Francis said the upcoming Synod of Bishops in Rome in October, the month of the missions, will be devoted to young people, offering “an opportunity to understand more fully, in the light of faith, what the Lord Jesus wants to say to you young people, and, through you, to all Christian communities.”
Having the synod and month of missions coincide “will prove to be one more occasion to help us become missionary disciples, ever more passionately devoted to Jesus and his mission, to the ends of the earth,” he said.
“Every man and woman is a mission,” he said; it is the reason for why one is alive on this earth.
“To be attracted and to be sent are two movements that our hearts, especially when we are young, feel as interior forces of love; they hold out promise for our future, and they give direction to our lives,” Pope Francis said.
But it is still a great challenge to live out this responsibility for the world with joy, he added.
However, he urged young people, “do not be afraid of Christ and his church! For there we find the treasure that fills life with joy.”
Recalling his own experience, the pope said it was thanks to his faith that “I found the sure foundation of my dreams and the strength to realize them.”
Even though he has seen so much suffering and poverty, “for those who stand by Jesus, evil is an incentive to ever greater love,” the pope said.
He asked young people to “be set afire by the love of Christ” so they are “consumed by that fire” and grow in understanding by its light and warmed by its love. Never stop wondering, he said, “What would Christ do if he were in my place?”
When it comes to bringing the Gospel to the “ends of the earth,” today’s extreme peripheries are not just places that that have never heard of Jesus and experienced the sacramental presence of the church.
“The most desolate periphery of all is where mankind, in need of Christ, remains indifferent to the faith or shows hatred for the fullness of life in God. All material and spiritual poverty, every form of discrimination against our brothers and sisters, is always a consequence of the rejection of God and his love,” he said.
Many of these places are “easily navigable” today, he said. The digital world, with its social networks, “dissolves borders, eliminates distances and reduces differences.”
But even though everything appears within reach and immediate online, if it lacks “the sincere gift of our lives, we could well have countless contacts but never share in a true communion of life,” the pope said.
“To share in the mission to the ends of the earth demands the gift of oneself in the vocation that God, who has placed us on this earth, chooses to give us,” he said, which is why it is so important young people seek, discover and persevere in his or her vocation.