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Church proclaims the love of God the Father

Each year World Mission Sunday offers the Church a precious opportunity to reflect on her missionary nature. Ever mindful of Christís command: "Go, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Mt. 28:19), the Church knows she is called to proclaim to men and women of every age and in every place the love of the one Father, who in Jesus Christ desires to gather together his children who are scattered abroad. (cf Jn. 11:52).

In this year at the close of the century, we feel strongly the urge to lift up our eyes and hearts to the Father, in order to know him "as he is and as the Son has revealed him to us." (CCC.2779) Reading in this light the Our Father, the prayer which the Divine Master himself taught us, it is easier to understand the source of the Churchís apostolic activity and the fundamental reasons for which she is a missionary "to the ends of the earth".

Our Father who art in heaven.
The Church is missionary in order to proclaim untiringly that God is Father, filled with love for all mankind. Every individual and all nations search, at times even unconsciously, for the mysterious face of God which however is revealed to us solely by his only Son, who is one with the Father. (cf. Jn 1:18) God is "the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ" and "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tm 2:4) Those who accept his grace discover with amazement that they are children of one Father and therefore find they owe it to all people to proclaim salvation.

It is the duty of believers to proclaim and testify that while he "dwells in unapproachable light" (1 Tm 6:16) the heavenly Father in his Son, who was born of the Virgin Mary, died and is risen, has made himself near to all human beings, and made them capable of responding to him, knowing him and loving him." (cf CCC, 52)

Hallowed be thy name.
The Christian prays that God may be hallowed through his adopted sons and daughters, and also through those who have yet to be reached by his revelation, knowing that it is through sanctification that he saves the whole of creation.

So that Godís name may be made holy among all nations, the Church works to draw humanity and creation into the plan of the Creator who is his love, destined us to be holy and blameless before him. (cf Eph 1:9,4)

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.
With these words believers pray for the coming of the divine kingdom and Christís return in glory. Nevertheless this desire does not distract them from their daily mission in the world; indeed, it heightens their commitment. The coming of the kingdom is now the work of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Lord "to complete his work on earth and bring us the fullness of grace."

Give us this day our daily bread.
In our day there is growing awareness that everyone has the right to his or her "daily bread", that is, to what is necessary for life. Much felt is also the need for rightful equity and shared solidarity to unite all humans beings. Nevertheless, many live in conditions which are not in keeping with their dignity as a human person. By proclaiming that men and women are children of the same Father, and therefore brothers and sisters, the Church helps to contribute towards the building of a world of authentic fellowship.

Forgive us our trespasses.
Missionary activity cannot fail to carry to individuals and to entire people the good news of the Lordís loving mercy. The Father who is in heaven, as is clearly seen in the parable of the Prodigal Son, is loving and he forgives the repentant sinner, forgetting his sins, restoring serenity and peace. This is the authentic face of God, the loving Father, who gives us the strength to conquer evil with good and enables those who respond to his love to share in the Redemption of the world.

As we forgive those who trespass against us.
Faced with the terrible and numerous consequences of sin, it is the duty of believers to offer signs of forgiveness and love. Only if they have experienced in their own lives the love of God will they be able to turn to others with love, which is generous and unconditioned. Forgiveness is one of the highest forms of divine charity, bestowed as a gift on those who ask for it with insistence.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
With this last request, in the Our Father we ask God not to allow us to take the path of sin and to free us from evil, which is often inspired by a personal being, Satan, who desires to obstruct the plan of God and the salvation he works through Christ.

In the knowledge that we are called to carry the news of salvation to a world dominated by sin and by the Evil One, Christians are encouraged to entrust themselves to God, and to ask him that the victory over the Prince of this world (cf Jn 14:30), won once and for all by Christ, may become a daily experience of their life.

Pope John Paul II
Message for World Mission Sunday: Oct 24, 1999