Reflection by Sr. Padraigín McKenna OP
“Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. And they going out preached everywhere, and the Lord was working with them.”
Very often when we reflect upon these words we think about the many missionaries who have left their country and gone abroad to spread the Good News. I used to think that to really fulfil this invitation of Jesus, we had to make the ultimate sacrifice and leave all to follow this Mission. But having gone abroad to Brasil, I now realise that we are called to continue the saving work of Jesus wherever we are, be it in our own home and neighbourhood or at the other end of the world.
Everyone has received the calling “Follow me.” and we can either say “Yes” to it or refuse the challenge. Each one of us decides willingly what he or she wants to do.
Where I was working in Brasil was a very large rural area about 200 kilometres from Sao Paulo. It was a very poor region and about 50% of the population over 60 years were illiterate and unable to read or write. One of our Sisters organised literacy classes for those who wanted to attend and a number of women participated. Nearly two years passed and one day, while visiting a community I went to visit a friend, Marieta. I’ll never forget the expression on her face as with tears in her eyes she exclaimed with joy: “I can read. I can read!” I was thrilled for her and thought she was reading a simple book. But no. Marieta produced a well thumbed Bible and very slowly she read from the Prophet Isaiah, Chapter 50:4I “Lord Yahweh has give me a disciple’s tongue, for me to know how to give a word of comfort to the weary.” In her Bible the translation was simply “I, Yahweh your God, will put into your mouth a word of hope and encouragement to all those you meet.” And then, closing the Bible, she handed it back to me and said: “Sure isn’t that what we are all trying to do!” What a wonderful world we would have if everyone were trying to do this!
And what is mission? What are we called to be, what are we called to do? We are all unique and each one of us has talents and gifts which we are challenged to use for the building up of the Kingdom of God.
There is a lovely story often quoted in Brasilian literature. It is a legend which is associated with the Amazon, but it has a lesson, I believe, for all of us.
One day it happened that there was a blazing fire in the Amazon forest and all the animals, big and small rushed off to the nearby river to save themselves. However, one small bird, the wee humming bird flew to the river, filled her beak with a drop of water and returned to the blazing forest, dropping the water on the inferno. She returned again to the river, filling her beak to the full with water and tried to quench the fire. She spent the whole day coming and going to the river for water and at the end of the day she was absolutely exhausted. One of the big strong animals then challenged her and said: “What in the name of God are you doing?” whereupon the wee humming bird replied: “I am doing my part!”
Am I doing my part? Am I using my God given gifts and talents to try and make this world a better place in which to live? If I am doing this I will be answering the call “To go to the whole world and proclaim the Good News.”
Remember, as Saint Catherine of Siena said: “If you are the person you are called to be, you will set the world on fire.”
So go with joy and enthusiasm to fulfill your vocation. And the Lord will be with you.