He added that the anniversary of the apostolic vicariate is not “a celebration of nostalgia” but “a fire of hope to enable us, here and now, to respond with similar determination, strength and confidence.” It is “a festive and grateful commemoration that helps us to go forth joyfully to share the new life born of the Gospel with all the members of our family whom we do not yet know.”
This missionary life is for every Christian with a living faith, he said.
“All of us become missionary disciples when we choose to be a living part of the Lord’s family,” he continued. “We do this by sharing with others as he did. He ate with sinners, assuring them that they too had a place at the Father’s table and the table of this world; he touched those considered to be unclean and, by letting himself be touched by them, he helped them to realize the closeness of God and to understand that they were blessed.”
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The Pope’s homily especially voiced support for the marginalized, like children and women who are victims of prostitution and human trafficking, “humiliated in their essential human dignity.” He mentioned young people enslaved by drug addiction and a lack of meaning, and remembered migrants who lack their homes and families and can feel orphaned or abandoned, “without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life.”
The Pope’s homily also remembered “exploited fishermen and bypassed beggars.”
“All of them are part of our family. They are our mothers, our brothers and sisters,” he said. “Let us not deprive our communities of seeing their faces, their wounds, their smiles and their lives. Let us not prevent them from experiencing the merciful balm of God’s love that heals their wounds and pains.”
“A missionary disciple knows that evangelization is not about gaining more members or about appearing powerful. Rather, it is about opening doors in order to experience and share the merciful and healing embrace of God the Father, which makes of us one family,” he said.
The pope praised the apostolic initiatives of Thailand and encouraged the communities to act as missionaries: “let us continue to go forward in the footsteps of the first missionaries, in order to encounter, discover and recognize with joy the faces of all those mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, whom the Lord wants to give us and who are absent from our Sunday table.”
Christian missionaries first arrived in what is now Thailand in the mid-16th century. Some priests there who served Portuguese soldiers and merchants there baptized several hundred Christians. Missionaries and the native Christian community suffered several harsh persecutions before and after the apostolic vicariate was established, especially in the 1700s.