Today we celebrate Mission Sunday in the Catholic World--the very reason for the existence of the Church. The Church in the Asia realizes how difficult the task it has been given. In the Peace Weekly, a missiologist reflects on this difficulty and attributes it to the cultural roots of the East.
In Africa and South America, although the cultures are unique, the Church environment was sufficiently congenial to those cultures to allow the Church to put down roots. Asia is different. The Church did not understand the culture, which led to the rites' controversy in China, and this in turn, the loss of evangelical vitality.
During the recent Lay Assembly of Asia, held in Korea during the 400th anniversary of the birth of Matteo Ricci, there was an opportunity to review the mission efforts of the Church in Asia. Although the Church here is small, their heroic efforts in the witnessing of Christ were acknowledged.
The missiologist mentioned that he was on the preparation committee for the assembly and was moved greatly by the different national representatives when they talked. They were enthusiastic and their faith commitment was evident.
A representative from Pakistan said that despite difficulties of mission work in Pakistan the Catholics are dialoguing with Islamism and do not consider them enemies but brothers. In most countries where Islam is predominant there is continual friction between the two faiths. In this environment, you have to risk your life in preaching Christ, but they are sustained by their belief that it is the Holy Spirit that is leading them.
Catholic Times' editorial on Mission Sunday mentioned that the problems we are having in mission work stem from a failure to understand this mission we have been given. Although we are always conscious of our call to mission, during October, especially, we are given the opportunity to renew that interest and our commitment to mission work.
Are we to go along with the way we have done mission in the past? And the answer can be found, it suggests, in the life we choose to lead--our whole life must be prepared for mission. Since the society we live in has changed, and our way of thinking and our living patterns have changed, our way of delivering the message also has to change.
The exemplary lives of Christians were always the best way of delivering the message. With all the different ways of commemorating this month of mission, we should begin by renewing our efforts centered on the meaning of who we are as followers of Christ. The ultimate mission method is to live our Christian life correctly and completely. The editorial concludes that this is the indispensable tool for mission work of the future.