July 11, 2021 – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/071121.cfm)
Let me tell you first about “Fr. Jo”. Fr. Jo is a Redemptorist Missionary from Germany who is now stationed and working in a Spanish-speaking Mexican community in United States. For years, he has lived with the Mexicans in the US, that he is now well loved by the people. Though he is a German by nationality, but his ways are like that of Mexican now. To the point, people would consider him more Mexican than themselves. They would take Fr. Jo as one of their own.
One day, in a catechism class, a religious sister intended to lecture the kids about the second person in the Holy Trinity. She started like this, “Kids, I like to introduce you to someone you should know. He is a person who loves you most. Until now, he takes care of you sincerely. He is always present whenever you need him. He is the most kind and very good person whom you should know. He has always been there whenever you need Him. I wonder, is anyone of you here already knows who he is?” Then, there was this little girl who raised her hands and said confidently, ”Sister, I already know him”. Glad that the little girl already knows about our Lord Jesus Christ, the sister asked her: ”So tell us, who this person is?” and the little girl replied: “Fr. Jo.”
Yes, we come to know Jesus not only through stories about him in the bible, and through our parents and catechists but we usually come to see, hear, touch, feel and experience Him through the faith and life of persons or people who reveals and represents to us the person of Jesus in our midst. These significant people, like Fr. Jo are God-sent and church-sent preachers, missionaries, and evangelizers who, by the witness of their words, actions and life, they become living witnesses and representatives of Jesus, for us to know Jesus personally in our own very lives now. Since then and until now, Jesus continues to send us his missionaries and prophets for us to recognize and know Him in our lives. And reviewing our life, we could identify people who have greatly influenced our faith – maybe a priest, a family friend, the tricycle driver, your neighbor, labandera, carpenter, a relative, teacher, or some stranger you meet along the way – that through them we come to know and believe in Jesus.
Yes, the best & most simple way for people to meet Jesus & know about Christ & Christianity is through & by means of us Christians ourselves – our Lord’s other christs – who are faithful believers, followers, and witness of Jesus to our world today.
We come to know Jesus in our life through Christians who comes in our way and has influenced our lives and faith. We also come to know Jesus because we let him come into our lives – because we welcome him into our lives. When Jesus sent his disciples, he advised them “stay in whatever house you are welcomed.” Meaning that we come to enjoy and share God’s grace because we welcome and allow Him into our own hearts and homes.
Missionary life is fascinating, if not intriguing for us. In my 29 years of being Redemptorist missionary, people usually asked me how I fend for myself as I live in the mission areas. People asked me, “Where do you live? Where do you sleep? How are you in terms of food?” I reply: “I usually rely and depend on God’s generosity and the hospitality of the people in the area”. Then with the usually follow up question: “Dili ba lisod? Is it hard?” My reply is: “usually when the people know that I am a missionary, who visits them and shares my faith with them, their doors (most times, those of the poor), are always open. They willingly welcome me in their homes, sharing their food, beds, stories, life and faith, same as I share with them my life and faith, as missionary of Christ. And honestly, as we share our faith-life experiences together, I come to witness that during my visits and conversation, people who welcome me into their lives and faith are so blessed as much as I am also with them blessed.
Remember what Yahweh said in the book of revelation: “Listen, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his house and eat with him, and he will eat with me.” And what Jesus assured us who welcome God into our lives, “My father will love them, and we will come to them, and make our home with them.” In other words, through His representatives & witnesses, we are blessed because the Lord comes to visit us & we willingly welcome Him into our hearts & our homes.
Through today’s Christian missionaries and prophets, especially during these pandemic times, may we be always conscious and open to welcome our Lord’s continuing “visits”, and be transformed and blessed by His offer of grace, salvation and life anew. Amen.