“Nunc dimittis….” and “My soul glorifies the Lord…”
Thanksgiving is possible only at the end:
and when life approaches its end.
the awareness that we were never alone,
that our steps were guided,
that we were shielded under the wings of God,
And the tongue bursts in a hymn of gratitude.
Looking back at my life I have to say with Jacob awaking from his sleep,
“Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” Gen. 28:16 or with the Israelites: “our clothing did not wear out on us, nor did our foot swell these forty years.” Deut 8:4
Truly, the fidelity of the Lord which we have experienced in our personal history and during our life journey is the sure foundation for our hope in the times to come.
While in Chinatown, I used to introduce myself as Fr. Michael, the happy Pastor of Chinatown. Doubtlessly, those years are the most fruitful of my whole life. I consider them the “harvest time” of my life, which is rich of so many different experiences.
I was “Happy” not because the situation at St. Therese was perfect, or Parishioners were very dedicated, or the collections abundant. No! I considered myself “happy” because I felt there is like a spring deep inside myself, welling up gently, overflowing and reaching out to people. It amazed me since it was not of my doing.
Most probably it was the wisdom that comes with the passing of time and the Holy Spirit at work in me at the time, reaching out to those around me.
There is, in fact, an invisible “golden thread“ uniting the different events of my life. Like in a Rosary, some excruciating sufferings and wounds of the past, are now shining brightly, as the big beads marking the decades.
Everything is providence, everything is Grace, and everything has been directed and planned for my greater happiness. It cannot be doubted.
I think I have received the best education possible, in Italy, England, Germany and Israel by the Xaverians and the Jesuits.
I was taught and I learned that missionaries have to be knowledgeable not to run the risk of smuggling their ignorance as “Faith” to be accepted blindly. I was taught that faith begins where reason ends.
Africa taught me that to “have a brain” is good, but in life there are other things equally important: music, dance, rhythm, color, smell, touch, friendship, wasting time together just doing nothing…
Asia teaches me that everything is a state of the mind: love, hate, joy are all a state of the mind. Whoever can control the mind has the remote control of happiness.
My life circle is now complete: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind, with all your strength, and with all your heart” It is so!
Asia with its beauty and rich culture intrigues me and challenges me at the same time, keeping me alive, preventing me to bend over myself and my little ego, with its fears and desires, and spurring me on.
The sufferings of the past are a precious school. It would have been different should I have suffered less. The future is equally joyful and my hope is based on the Lord’s mercy, which was made visible in past events of my life.
This is why I like to be called “Father” and why I consider myself “The happy pastor of Chinatown.”
During this time of “Thanksgiving,” I would like to invite you to this “Treasure hunt,” to discover God’s work in your life, to write your “personal Gospel” to be added to the existing ones. The could be entitled: “The Gospel of NN” where NN stands for your name.
Like old Simeon and our Blessed Mother Mary we have to learn to discover God’s goodness to us. We will discover how our joy is directly proportioned to the awareness we have of having been loved first and ours will be an enthusiastic answer, welling up fro!m the depths of our being!