Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus issued his last commandment and great commission to the Apostles: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
The Church has always taken this great commission of the Lord literally and seriously. In fact, throughout the centuries, missionaries have traveled to ends of the earth to proclaim salvation in Christ. Many missionaries have even been martyred for spreading the Faith to the nations.
On Sunday, Oct. 23, the Church celebrates World Mission Sunday. On this day, in a particular way, the Church celebrates and recommits herself to missionary activity throughout the world. Pope Francis reminds us that World Mission Sunday takes on a particular significance during this Year of Mercy. “All of us are invited to ‘go out’ as missionary disciples…in order to bring the message of God’s tenderness and compassion to the entire human family. By virtue of the missionary mandate…[the Church] ‘is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel,’” (Misericordiae Vultus, 12).
The mission to the nations is driven by the truth that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Knowing this to be true, Christians are compelled to share Jesus with the world. We are all called to be missionaries, to bring Christ to others, but on World Mission Sunday we pray for and pledge our support to all those who have responded to God’s call to literally bring the Gospel to the nations.