“Hearts on fire, feet on the move” is the theme of the 97th World Mission Day which will be celebrated on 22 October 2023.
The story of the disciples of Emmaus inspired this theme: the two confused and disappointed disciples return home sad due to the death of Jesus, in whom they had believed. But the meeting with an unknown traveler who explains to them the meaning of the scriptures makes their hearts burned. They invite him to dine with them and their eyes open: they recognize Jesus Christ in that traveler, through the gestures he makes. Taking the bread, blessing it, breaking it and giving it to them are decisive signs that allow them to recognize Jesus. “Those were the usual gestures of the head of a Jewish household, but, performed by Jesus Christ with the grace of the Holy Spirit, they renewed for his two table companions the sign of the multiplication of the loaves and above all that of the Eucharist, the sacrament of the sacrifice of the cross.”.
After having kindled the heart with enthusiasm and having opened the eyes to the recognition of Jesus, the feet set out on the way with the joy of telling the story of the Risen Christ: the disciples leave without delay and return to Jerusalem.
Pope Francis concludes his message with an exhortation for us:
So let us set out once more, illumined by our encounter with the risen Lord and prompted by his Spirit. Let us set out again with burning hearts, with our eyes open and our feet in motion. Let us set out to make other hearts burn with the word of God, to open the eyes of others to Jesus in the Eucharist, and to invite everyone to walk together on the path of peace and salvation that God, in Christ, has bestowed upon all humanity.