Every Christian Must Be Missionary, Pope Says

Message for World Missions Sunday

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 5, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Every Christian must see Jesus´ face in the poor, the suffering and those searching for the meaning of life, and proclaim the Savior to them, John Paul II said in a message for World Missions Day.

The text of the papal message, published today by the Vatican agency Fides, anticipates World Missions Day, which will be observed Oct. 21.

According to the Pontiff, the missionary drive arises from «contemplation of the face of the Lord,» which «leads the disciples to ´contemplate´ the faces of the men and women of today: the Lord identifies himself in fact with ´the least of my brothers.´»

This contemplation enables the Christian to discover that every man seeks God, «drawn by an inner attraction the origin of which they themselves do not know.»

The proclamation of Christ is not something reserved for a few, the Pope states.

It is «the responsibility of all the members of the People of God,» he writes. «Those who have come into genuine contact with Christ cannot keep him for themselves, they must proclaim him.» This proclamation must not be imposed but proposed «with confidence,» the Holy Father explains.

«It must be directed to adults, families, children, without concealing the more radical demands of the Gospel message, responding to the needs of each one as regards sensibility and language,» the papal message continues.

John Paul II says that the great lesson he has learned from his trips around the world as Pope can be summarized thus: The mission «today is more valid than ever.»

«I keep impressed on my heart the face of humanity that I have been able to contemplate during my pilgrimages,» he writes. «This is the face of Christ reflected in that of the poor and the suffering; the face of Christ mirrored in those who live like ´sheep without a shepherd.´ Every man and woman has the full right to be taught ´many things.´»

World Missions Day, instituted by Pope Pius XI, celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. John Paul II said the day offers Christians the chance to show solidarity with missionaries by helping with their material needs.

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