Pope Francis: “Missionaries are the ‘evangelization heroes’ of our times”

The Holy Father stressed this during his recent daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, as he discussed the characteristics of men and women who choose to serve the Church as missionaries.

The Pontiff drew his inspiration from the day’s reading where Paul takes his leave from the community at Miletus and talks of being compelled by the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem next (Acts 20,17-27).

Francis highlighted that Paul had a burning desire to dedicate his life to announcing the Gospel; and that the flame that burned in his and every Apostle’s heart is the same one alive in the hearts of so many young people who have left their family and homeland to announce Jesus in far-off lands.

The Pope went on to praise this “irresistible drive” of missionaries who donate their lives to the service of Christ. He highlighted that Paul was certain that the Holy Spirit possessed absolute mastery over his life, and therefore announced the Gospel, despite problems and difficulties.

The Pope said: “I believe this excerpt evokes for us the life of missionaries throughout the ages. They went forward compelled by the Holy Spirit: a vocation! And when we went to the cemeteries in those places, we saw their tombs. So many of them died at an early age as they couldn’t recover from the diseases present in those places”.

“They gave up their young lives. I’m thinking of them in their last moment on earth, far from their homeland, their families and their loved ones, who said: ‘What I did was worth it!'” The Pope marvelled that missionaries set out without knowing what awaits them. “Our missionaries are evangelization heroes of our times […] I think it is only right that we give thanks to the Lord for their testimony. It’s right that we rejoice for having these missionaries who are true witnesses. I’m wondering what the final moments on earth were like for these people: how did they bid farewell? Like Francis Xavier: ‘I left everything but it was worth it!’ They passed away, nameless. They were martyrs who offered up their lives for the Gospel. These missionaries are our glory! The glory of our Church!”

One key quality of a missionary, Pope Francis stressed, is “docility” towards the Spirit. The Pope prayed that, instead of the dissatisfaction afflicting today’s young people, the voice of the Spirit compels them to give their lives to a noble cause. Pope Francis concluded his homily giving young people some practical advice.

“I would like to say to the young men and women of nowadays who don’t feel at ease; those who say ‘But I’m not that happy with this consumerist and narcissistic culture’, look at the horizon! Look who’s there, look at our missionaries! Pray to the Holy Spirit who compels them to go far away, to consume or burn up their lives. It’s a rather hard word, but it’s worth it to really live our lives. But we need to live it in a good way, to ‘consume’ it in service, in evangelizing and journeying forward. This is the joy of announcing the Gospel.”

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