The 2016 World Mission Day message of the Holy Father which is titled: Missionary Church, Witness of Mercy, dwells on the need for mercy to be the centre for all persons involved in mission and in all missionary activities. In view of this mandate, “all of us are invited to “go out” as missionary disciples, each generously offering their talents, creativity, wisdom and experience in order to bring the message of God’s tenderness and compassion to the entire human family.” Let us in Africa know that the call to be a missionary is not a call for the clerics or religious, for the laity, in their secular endeavours, we are presented with uncountable opportunities to share love and care, also to receive same from others.
Mercy consciously and unconsciously guild us to successfully, show love and care for others. Having interacted with some Africans from other cultures, it is clear that mercy remains the centre stage of the nature of real African men and women. For a continuous living out of this precious merciful nature among Africans, there is need for us to always “identify with the young, the marginalized and the oppressed” in our respective church community and civil society. This call which extends to those in the ministerial service and the laity, demands us to live out our respective mission by being kind, caring, faithful and close to those in need, especially the poor. Our witness of mercy to one other and our environment ought to be without limitation, as such, circumstances or conditions we find ourselves should not determine who is due to share or receive this wonderful experience from us.
The Pope through the message calls on Africans (Christians and non-Christians), not to distance ourselves from the Gospel and sacraments, for these are the key instruments that make our life of love and mercy efficient and effective. Such that whenever anyone is unsure of how mercy and love are to be reflected, he/she can fall back to these key instruments for direction. It is very important that members of the Church in Nigeria (ministers and laity), should above all let love stand out in all their dealings in the Church, society, environment and workplaces, by doing so, we are assured of an inner joy, great motivation, being respectful and sort for in dialogue. The living out of this love in mercy is not limited to a particular gender or class of people in the church, men and women (laity, clerics and religious) in their complimenting and respective capacities are called to witness his God’s mercy.
Another point of interest in the message on how Africans can further witness to the evangelizing and sacramental mission, is by understanding “…people’s problems and know how to deal with them in an appropriate and, at times, fresh way: in caring for life, with a strong focus on people rather than structures, and by allocating human and spiritual resources towards the building of good relations, harmony, peace, solidarity, dialogue, cooperation and fraternity, both among individuals and in social and cultural life, in particular through care for the poor.”
Attesting to the effectiveness of education, Africans through the Pope’s message are admonished to see education a vital approach to successful evangelization, because it is an avenue that “dedicates much time and effort, patiently waiting for fruit after years of slow cultivation; in this way they bring forth a new people able to evangelize, who will take the Gospel to those places where it otherwise would not have been thought possible.” In particular, this will be us, being ever ready and willing to help “those who do not yet know the Lord to encounter and love him,” through our acts of kindness towards them.
Africans should let go of some segregatory and discriminatory behaviours, which come with categorising people in Church or society according to cultures, class, ethnicity, religion, etc., because everyone has “the right to receive the message of salvation which is God’s gift to every person.” More than ever, this call to merciful love is “more necessary when we consider how many injustices, wars, and humanitarian crises” as well as economic challenges and political turmoil most countries in our continent are undergoing currently. The effects of the above extends to both believers and non-believers, but our ability to surmount them all depend on our wiliness to forgive and be merciful to each other, through the above specified mercy actions, so that we can have enduring “joy and reconciliation, justice and peace.” Our show of mercy actions, cannot be complete, if we do not let go of something valuable from ourselves for the development of another. This is not only fruitful for spiritual development, it is also visibly profiting to the physical development.