What makes a man spend nine months of heavy gruesome training with Moscow based cosmonauts in spartan conditions and spend 18 million dollars (!) of his own money to fulfill his life long dream to go into space? After being two weeks in space, Dennis Tito climbed out of the Russian capsule, beaming with satisfaction. When asked if this was a worthwhile investment, he answered, “Every penny and every minute was worthwhile!”
Crazy? Perhaps. Passionate? Definitely! Risking is what life is supposed to be!
Risking for what? A story is told of a multi national company that wanted to secure a well qualified man to handle their business interests in China. He had to speak the language fluently, be well familiar with the culture of the place, have a strong personality, be a man of tact and have unusual administrative ability. They would be willing to pay a colossal salary.
A search was made to find the right man and sure enough they found one. He had been working in China as a missionary for a long time, was a practical and able administrator, knew the language and the Chinese way of life well. .
When approached, the man was staggered by the salary they were offering him. And yet the missionary responded with a decisive “No!” “Why not?” asked the scout. “Isn’t the salary big enough?” “To be sure it is,” replied the missionary. “The trouble is not with the salary, but with the job. The job isn’t big enough!”
The missionary knew the obvious – proclaiming the Gospel is the greatest job on earth!
However just as living a Christian life, without passion is apathetic, so evangelization without passion is comatose. A rather illustrious Christian is quoted to have said, “Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.” Passion is contagious! It sparks the imagination. It is empowering. It gives one the courage to step out of the norm and risk.
When Archbishop Apuron decided to start a major seminary in Guam, many thought this was a wild idea. Seven years later, the Archdiocese has a magnificent building in Yona, 36 seminarians, an Institute affiliated to the most prestigious Faculty in the Catholic Church and it is still growing.
Passion should be the norm, not the exception in Christianity. Like sanctity! Look at all the saints. They were all crazy for God and for men.
Since childhood, I have been fascinated by the Jesuit Missionary Saint Francis Xavier, who introduced Christianity to Japan in 1549,. He left Lisbon on his 35th birthday, arriving in Goa India thirteen (yes, 13) months later! After seven years of ministry in India, Malaysia and the Spice Islands, Xavier decided to embark on a new adventure and he went to Japan!
He wrote to his friend and superior, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, “I have learnt from good authorities that there is a country near China called Japan, the inhabitants of which are all heathen, quite untouched by Muslims or Jews, and very eager to learn what they do not know both in things divine and things natural, I have determined to go thither as soon as I can….”
Learning a new language, translating scriptures and the catechism into the native Japanese language, facing the very turbulent time in Japan at the time, did not daunt him. Caritas Christi urget nos! The love of Christ impels us, would utter Saint Paul!
This man approached a woman in a Boston hotel and shared his experience about Jesus Christ. When she told her husband of this, the latter retorted. “He should mind his own business!” The woman answered, “If you saw how he spoke and the expression on his face, you would have thought it was his business!”
Be the unique person of passion Jesus has made you to be and many will flourish because of you!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.