The Holy Father’s Reflection on the Great Commission

In his closing Mass for World Youth Day Rio, Pope Francis commissioned not only the Catholic youth of the world, but every Catholic.  He called each of us to be a missionary without borders. He referenced the Great Commission, when Jesus called us to “Go and make disciples of all nations,” and explained that “this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole church and that includes you.”

Pope Francis is right, of course. We’re all called to share God’s love by bringing Christ’s message of hope to the world.  Everyone has a deep, spiritual need to know God, and this search for Truth can only be satisfied in and through Jesus Christ.

At Cross Catholic Outreach, we believe sharing God’s love involves responding to a person’s physical needs too. In fact, working toward that goal a major part of our ministry’s focus. Pope Francis talked about this in his final homily. “The life of Jesus is a life for others,” he said. “It is a life of service.”

But the Holy Father didn’t just leave it at that. He encouraged his listeners with specifics. He explained that this call “means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.”

When I heard those words, I marveled at the radical qualities of the message – and I was challenged by what such a commission demands of us.  Here in America, TV advertising and movie messages encourage us to live life for ourselves, to seek control over others, and to seize as much power as possible. These goals are the opposite of the calling Pope Francis described. Sharing the salvation of Christ, the Holy Father explained, “is not born from a desire for domination or power, but from the force of love.”

He went on to say: “Bringing the Gospel is bringing God’s power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred.”

What a powerful message!  What a worthy calling!

May our work overseas, be a true reflection of the Great Commission and may the hope we carry beyond borders be rooted in love, responding to both the physical and spiritual needs of those we serve.