Years ago, an evangelist recalls that a friend of his invited him to go to his home village, which was a spot in the road town about 60 miles from Rio de Janeiro. When they arrived to the family home where he had been raised, Sebastao introduced the missionary to his father Don Jose. Pretty much everything was still very country and untouched by modern comforts. There There was no running water. The kitchen was separate from the house, the wife cooking beans and rice. You get the picture. Sr. Jose made his way to the creek and undressed. He explained that it was Saturday and he had to be clean for the Lord’s day. As he made his way into the water, he asked the evangelist, “Where are you from, and what do you do?” The evangelist replied, “I am from the USA, and I am a missionary.” An hour later, and back at the house, Sr. Jose remarked, “Your job is pretty easy. I have worked these two acres, plowed and tilled for over 37 years and know every corner. I have raised and fed 14 children. After what I have seen God do with my two little acres, I HAVE NO DIFFICULTY BELIEVING IN GOD.”
In our lives, as the days unfold one after the other, I have to confess that I have never thought of my belief in God as easy pickings. Sure, in the birth of a newborn baby, the safe return of a son from war torn lands or sunrise or sunsets over the river with an early morning cup of coffee or an afternoon martini, God’s presence can be easy to detect. But in the drill of the office from nine to five, broken family relationships, sadness or rejection in love, many people may find it hard to think of my relationship with God as easy. Our mothers and grandmothers taught us back when that God is everywhere. That would include the closed ramps of I-4, the worry of the job interview that never materialized, the grown child that seems to have wandered off the beaten path. I often mention that I wonder if everyone leaves Mass with homework. As you leave Mass at St. John Vianney here in Orlando, look up over each door. This is what you will read: YOU ARE NOW ENTERING THE MISSIONARY TERRITORY.