“The Church in her very nature is missionary, sent by Christ to all the nations to make disciples of them.” (Ad Gentes 2; 5-6)
When we speak of the nature of a thing, we’re not speaking about the ecological design or environmental interior, but we’re dealing more with a metaphysical reality that goes to the spirit or being of a thing. So to say that the “Church in her very nature is missionary” is to make a deep identical marker that would hopefully spur us into action.
If the Church is missionary in nature, then we too, as members of this Church, are to be missionary within our beings. We cannot give what we do not have.
We are at a unique stage in our history where our numbers are diminishing and previously understood statements of faith are now no longer part of the household norm. In the midst of a new and ever shifting context, we’re left simply with the question, am I missionary?
We all answer this question in many ways. Some of us are so missionary that not even Ennio Morricone could produce a soundtrack that would match the fervour. Some of us don’t even know what the word means. Others still, are indifferent.
The Church is missionary in her nature, yet she is not alone. Jesus said that you will be given assistance. There is another “whom the Father will send in my name who will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you (Jn 14:26).”
Today is Pentecost and like the apostles in the upper room, Jesus breathes on us and says “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In the same breath we’re told by Christ to forgive each other and to not retain any sins. These actions are intrinsically tied to our call as followers of Christ who belong to this missionary Church.
As we celebrate Pentecost today, may we acknowledge the Spirit given to us in Baptism, stirred within us at Confirmation, who encourages us even now to align our nature with the Church’s. May we be bold in our proclamation and humble in our encounter with the Lord.
Fr William Aupito Iuliano