Regarding the following in apostolic footsteps:
Reasons of work nowadays bring many Christians from young communities to areas where Christianity is unknown and at times prohibited or persecuted. The same is true of members of the faithful from traditionally Christian countries who work for a time in non-Christian countries. These circumstances are certainly an opportunity to live the faith and to bear witness to it. In the early centuries, Christianity spread because Christians, traveling to or settling in regions where Christ had not yet been proclaimed, bore courageous witness to their faith and founded the first communities there.
One aspect of the mandate for mission often missed is when non-believers find their way into communities with Christians. What then? That might not have happened much in pre-Tridentine Europe. Are we prepared to offer, as Pope John Paul II put it, “hospitality, dialogue, service, sharing, witness and direct proclamation”? Or do we rely on others to do that work?
More numerous are the citizens of mission countries and followers of non-Christian religions who settle in other nations for reasons of study or work, or are forced to do so because of the political or economic situations in their native lands. The presence of these brothers and sisters in traditionally Christian countries is a challenge for the ecclesial communities, and a stimulus to hospitality, dialogue, service, sharing, witness and direct proclamation. In Christian countries, communities and cultural groups are also forming which call for the mission ad gentes, and the local churches, with the help of personnel from the immigrants’ own countries and of returning missionaries, should respond generously to these situations.
A final thought on cooperation:
Missionary cooperation can also involve leaders in politics, economics, culture and journalism, as well as experts of the various international bodies. In the modern world it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine geographical or cultural boundaries. There is an increasing interdependence between peoples, and this constitutes a stimulus for Christian witness and evangelization.
Boundaries have disappeared. Or at best, they’ve shifted. We can’t rely on a geography from 1990, 1975, 1962, or any previous era.
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