Book extract

A parish, by nature, is missionary. It opens out. It does not fold in upon itself. Jesus sent his disciples: ‘‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation’’ (Mark 16:15). A parish is expected to look out in a dynamic way for what it can do for Christ.

It does not settle down to a type of ordinary management, pastoral activity, to a type of “business as usual” method. Rather, it is called to launch out into the deep. There are in most parishes people who have not yet been reached with the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ in a way that changes their lives.

There are lapsed Christians waiting to be contacted. There are people influenced by a secular culture who need the liberating light of the Gospel. There are poor people or the sick who will welcome someone to show them love in the name of Christ.

Pope Benedict XVI stresses that a ‘‘missionary outreach is a clear sign of the maturity of an ecclesial community … The Church must go out to meet each person in the strength of the Spirit (cf 1 Corinthians 2:5) and continue her prophetic defence of people’s right and freedom to hear the word of God, while constantly seeking out the most effective ways of proclaiming that word, even at the risk of persecution’’ (Verbum Domini, 95).

This going forth to give witness to Christ can disturb one’s personal comfort. Readiness to make sacrifices for the Kingdom of Christ is part of what is required of the evangeliser. Pope Francis emphasises the point: ‘‘Each Christian and every community discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the ‘peripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel’’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 20).

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