Mission is tirelessly going out to all men and women to invite them with respect, joy and kindness, to encounter God and enter into communion with him, Pope Francis wrote in his message for World Mission Sunday.
The Catholic Church, he wrote, "in fidelity to the mission she has received from the Lord, will continue to go to the ends of the earth, to set out over and over again, without ever growing weary or losing heart in the face of difficulties and obstacles."
He also praised the Eucharistic renewal that many local churches are promoting, saying this "will also be essential for reviving the missionary spirit in each member of the faithful."
"In this year devoted to prayer in preparation for the Jubilee of 2025, I wish to encourage all to deepen their commitment above all to take part in the celebration of Mass and to pray for the church's mission of evangelization," he wrote.
World Mission Sunday will be observed Oct. 20 in most countries. The text of the pope's message was published by the Vatican Feb. 2, the feast of the presentation of the Lord, and signed Jan. 25, the feast of the conversion of St. Paul.
The theme of this year's message, "Go and invite everyone to the banquet," (Mt 22:9) indicates three important aspects of evangelization, the pope wrote: going out into the world; inviting everyone; and indicating God's divine banquet, which is "marked by joy, sharing, justice and fraternity in communion with God and with others."
"God, great in love and rich in mercy, constantly sets out to encounter all men and women, and to call them to the happiness of his kingdom, even in the face of their indifference or refusal," he wrote.
"Let us not forget that every Christian is called to take part in this universal mission by offering his or her own witness to the Gospel in every context," he wrote.
At the same time, the pope wrote, those bringing the Gospel to everyone must imitate the Lord's same "style" and do so "with joy, magnanimity and benevolence that are the fruits of the Holy Spirit within them. Not by pressuring, coercing or proselytizing, but with closeness, compassion and tenderness."
Everyone, "whatever their social or even moral status," is invited by God "to partake of his grace, which transforms and saves. One need simply say 'yes' to this gratuitous divine gift, accepting it and allowing oneself (to) be transformed by it," the pope wrote.
"Christ's missionary disciples have always had a heartfelt concern for all persons," he wrote, and the Gospel parable of the wedding banquet says that "the least of our brothers and sisters, those marginalized by society, are the special guests of the king."
Lastly, the pope wrote, "Christ's mission has to do with the fullness of time" and "when all of us will be with Christ at his wedding feast in the kingdom of God."
"While the world sets before us the various 'banquets' of consumerism, selfish comfort, the accumulation of wealth and individualism, the Gospel calls everyone to the divine banquet," he wrote.
"This fullness of life, which is Christ's gift, is anticipated even now in the banquet of the Eucharist," he wrote, and, "consequently, all of us are called to experience more intensely every Eucharist."
Pope Francis thanked all missionaries for their generous dedication, and he recommended "to all dioceses throughout the world the service of the Pontifical Mission Societies," which uphold "a truly universal and missionary outlook" and effectively collect funds for all the missions.
"The collections of World Mission Day in all the local churches are entirely destined to the universal fund of solidarity that the Pontifical Society of the Propagation of the Faith then distributes in the pope's name for the needs of all the church's missions," he wrote.
"The mission for all requires the commitment of all. We need to continue our journey toward a fully synodal and missionary church in the service of the Gospel," he wrote.