Time of the mission

2012-10-06 L’Osservatore Romano

“Go out to the whole world; proclaim the gospel to all creation” (Mk 16:15). With these words of the resurrected Lord Jesus, found in the concluding part of the Gospel according to St Mark, the time of the mission of the Church begins. She exists to evangelize, to announce always and everywhere the Good News to all men of good will.

The mandate remains the same, just as Jesus Christ remains the same “for ever and ever” (Heb 13:8), as does his Gospel, even though those to whom it is addressed change, along with the social, cultural, political and religious conditions in which they live.

The missionary mandate of the glorified Lord will also mark the activity of the upcoming XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will open on 7 October with Mass celebrated by Benedict XVI in St Peter's Square. These words of Jesus have also guided the reflection of the second chapter of the Instrumentum laboris, entitled “Time for a New Evangelization”.

As is known, the Synod Assembly will take until 28 October, on the theme of the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. In this respect, it is important to keep united the two aspects of the subject of the Synod. This, indeed, indicates that the aim of the New Evangelization is the transmission of the faith. On the other hand, the process of the transmission of the faith, which nowadays in many cases encounters obstacles of various types, is carried out within the scope of the New Evangelization.

The preparation and progress of a Synod Assembly is a complex and demanding process requiring significant activity and the collaboration of many people. In general, three mutually interlinking aspects may be distinguished in this process: a spiritual dimension, theological pastoral reflection, and technical and organizational preparation. Prayer accompanies and animates every Synod activity.

In any case, the Christian is invited to pray constantly (cf. 1 Thess 5:17) following the example of Lord Jesus. Moreover a meeting of Bishops, representatives of the episcopate of the entire world, gathered around the Bishop of Rome and the President of the Synod of Bishops, could not therefore be carried out other than in a context of prayer. The prayer that has accompanied the preparation work, and which has as an icon the pilgrimage of His Holiness Benedict XVI to Loreto on 4 October 2012, will take a pre-eminent role during the work of the Synod. Next to the Synod Hall, in the adjacent chapel, there will be a Holy Sacrament, in order to offer to Synod participants, before and after the meetings, the chance to rest in meditation before the Master who continues to send his disciples along the road throughout the world to proclaim the Gospel, the Good News also for contemporary mankind.

The consistent presence in prayer, in listening and in reflection will further increase the collegial fondness between the Bishops, among themselves and the Bishop of Rome, head of the episcopal college. Also, the participation in the synodal works by qualified members of the People of God will further reinforce ties between all the members of the Catholic Church. The presence of Fraternal Delegates will give a strong ecumenical aspect to the Synodal Assembly. Together we will pray for the realization of the Lord Jesus’ prayer as quickly as possible: “May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me” (Jn 17:21).

The enormous work of evangelization and new evangelization in today’s world demands a concurrence by all the Churches and ecclesial communities. We will accompany this process with prayer, with the witness of Christian life and with the renewed dynamism in confessing, in communion with the Holy Father Benedict XVI, Successor of St Peter the Apostle: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16).

Nikola Eterović