I received an e-mail from an active missionary about this series. Before we get to more of Pope John Paul’s goals in writing this document, I want to state a few of mine in highlighting Redemptoris Missio (RM) over the next several months.
I confess that I have never been nor am I ever likely to be a missionary in the sense most people understand this: living in a minority-Christian region away from my home country. My interest is more in the effort to reach out to people who are inactive or nominally Christian and cooperate in an effective way of drawing them back to the communal life. I plan to lens some of RM in light of my immediate ministry. I will also endeavor to be impartial in both criticism and affirmation of this document. On one hand, it is thirty years old. But it remains as part of the body of work that contributes to church teaching.
Seven goals are listed at the end of RM 2.
I also have other reasons and aims:
- to respond to the many requests for a document of this kind;
- to clear up doubts and ambiguities regarding missionary activity ad gentes,
- and to confirm in their commitment those exemplary brothers and sisters dedicated to missionary activity and all those who assist them;
- to foster missionary vocations;
- to encourage theologians to explore and expound systematically the various aspects of missionary activity;
- to give a fresh impulse to missionary activity by fostering the commitment of the particular churches – especially those of recent origin – to send forth and receive missionaries;
- and to assure non-Christians and particularly the authorities of countries to which missionary activity is being directed that all of this has but one purpose: to serve (people) by revealing to (them) the love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ.
Number two will be interesting to explore. Remembering the 1980s as a time of suspicion for many people in the Church, directed to others, and being directed at.
Number six will address one of my big questions of Post-Tridentine Catholicism: why did the impulse of evangelization in the late 16th/early 17th century lose so much steam and fail to produce consequent generations of the caliber of the early patriarchates in the early centuries of Christianity?
Number seven: to serve others is the most honorable impulse, especially if rooted in a sense of self-sacrifice. To serve, in other words, as Jesus did.
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