Challenge and blessing
By Vincent Doherty C.Ss.R.
Coming out of the Australian winter of July 1966, and into the tropical heat of the Philippines, was a severe experience of climate change.
But that was only the start of it. There were many further changes to face:
- a new language to learn;
- new thought patterns to master;
- new cultural expressions to understand and adopt;
- new demands in the work of evangelisation
I had stepped out of the every-day assumptions of Australian democracy and found myself knee-deep in martial law. How would I respond? As a foreigner, how could I respond?
New Gospel challenges opened up to me:
- to conscientise the people in their daily experiences;
- to take up the challenge of the Asian Bishops to build communities of faith and action among the people.
New questions arose for me:
- How will Redemptorists, in these particular circumstances, proclaim the Good News of Christ?
- How will we evangelise the people so that they would become agents for change in their own environment?
I found myself outside my comfort zone, yet energised for something far beyond it. It became a matter of listening more closely to the people and to the Lord.
When I began preaching missions in the Philippines I saw myself as giving to the people. Now I realise I am receiving from them, being evangelised by them.
I observe that the people:
- live very frugally and yet remain joyful and hopeful;
- share necessities and practice hospitality;
- enjoy each others company in simple ways;
- are willing to fight oppression at great personal risk and sacrifice.
My life on the foreign missions has faced me with these new experiences. They have been both a challenge and a blessing.