Pope Francis

(Radio-Vatican) In the message for this 54th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the Pope reflects on the missionary dimension of our Christian calling.

The Holy Father says that "commitment to mission is not something added on to the Christian life as a kind of decoration, but is instead an essential element of faith itself.  A relationship with the Lord," he adds, "entails being sent out into the world as prophets of his word and witnesses of his love."

Even if at times when "we are conscious of our weaknesses and tempted to discouragement", Pope Francis underlines,  "we need to turn to God with confidence", and he reiterates that, by "virtue of baptism, every Christian is a "Christopher", a bearer of Christ, to his brothers and sisters."

In the message divided into three subtitles, the first being "Jesus is anointed by the Spirit and sent", the Holy Father explains that, "to be a missionary disciple means to share actively in the mission of Christ."

In the second heading, "Jesus is at our side every step of the way", Pope Francis describes how "the questions lurking in human hearts and the real challenges of life can make us feel bewildered, inadequate and hopeless."  But he goes on to say, "if we contemplate the risen Jesus walking alongside the disciples of Emmaus we can be filled with new confidence."

In the third subtitle, "Jesus makes the seed grow", the Pope says that, "it is important to let the Gospel teach us the way of proclamation."  "The seed of the Kingdom", he adds, "however tiny, unseen and at times insignificant, silently continues to grow, thanks to God's tireless activity."

Concluding his message the Holy Father underlines that, "there can be no promotion of vocations or Christian mission apart from constant contemplative prayer and he encourages this kind of profound friendship with the Lord, "above all for the sake of imploring from on high new vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life."

The 2017 World Day of Prayer for Vocations will be celebrated on May 7th.

Read the complete message here