‘Peregrinari pro Christo’ – ‘To be an exile/pilgrim for Christ’. Sunday Reflections, 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
The Calling of St Matthew (detail), Caravaggio [Web Gallery of Art]
Jesus said to his Apostles:
‘Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’
Post-World War II Japan [Source]
Whoever loves father or mother . . . son or daughter more than me . . . and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
These words of Jesus in today’s Gospel speak to the hearts of missionaries who leave their homelands and who give up the right to have their own families. Up to maybe a hundred years or so ago it was not uncommon for missionaries, and emigrants, never to return home. When I entered the Columban seminary in Ireland in 1961 our priests came home only after seven years. And they travelled by ship across the Atlantic and Pacific. We were, and are, inspired by our patron saint, St Columban, whose motto was Peregrinari pro Christo, ‘To be an exile/pilgrim for Christ’
Times have changed and long-distance travel by plane has replaced journeys on ocean liners and freighters and is much cheaper. People fly across the Atlantic for weekends. And people are living much longer, which has led to many missionaries spending their latter days in the country of their birth. For some, this is a second experience of going into exile.
My Columban confrere Fr Eamonn Horgan went to Japan as a young priest in 1954 and came back to Ireland for good in 2013. He writes about these two experiences in his article Two Sorrows.
Fr Eamonn Horgan with Japanese friend Continue here.