Being With Others
I used to see him every day in the street as I passed him on my way to our center, the Community of Hope. At first I did not realize who he was, but after he came to an activity in our center, I realized that he was one of our oldest members with a disability. We introduced ourselves, but he knew me from my work as a staff member in the center. After that he would greet me every morning.
He is developmentally disabled and probably in his forties. What most struck me was that he had his rosary with him every day. Whenever I saw him he had his rosary in his hand. That’s how I remember him even before I got to know him. He is big and walks slowly; he is always praying.
I recall one morning seeing him coming towards me and then entering the chapel behind our center. He made the sign of the cross a few times and then stood in front of the statue of our mother, Mary. As a Korean I was so moved by this man freely expressing his faith in God in public, as we don’t do that in Korea. However, here I see people everywhere saying in some way or other that God loves us.
My praying friend inspired me because I was having a bad morning and he was praying in front of the Virgin Mary. So often I had passed by that chapel, but I never entered to pray to Mary or make the sign of the cross, so seeing him praying made me say to myself, “I am saying to the people that I am a Sister and a missionary, but this man puts me to shame.” He made me ask myself, “What am I doing here?” He was really a great teacher for me.
The Philippines is my first mission and with it being a Catholic country, I wonder why I am here. As a missionary, what should I do? Every morning when I saw him this question came to me. It was not just shame that he prompted in me, but he left me with this question that continued to come back to me.
I like to see him. One time I saw him near the center of the city; I was on my way to the center. I asked him where he had been and he replied, “in Cota,” which is a shrine in honor of the Virgin Mary. He had been there to pray, part of his daily routine. It is quite a long walk and his fidelity to his religious practice amazed me. Comparing myself with him I feel that he is a much more religious person.
By being who he is this Filipino man has helped me work out why I am here on mission. There are many ways of life, many ways of responding to God’s call. This is my way of responding to God’s call. As a Sister I came to know myself better than before. Some might say that I’m selfish being here, because I feel that this is in part a response to my needs too. However, since I realized how much Jesus loves me, I feel happy to be with other people, here or anywhere else. I can sense Jesus’ compassionate love in others. I just enjoy seeing how Jesus loves me and others. I don’t get tired of this.
Before I joined the Sisters I never experienced being loved by other people. Of course I would always say that my mother and father love me, but it seemed like something coming out of my head, not my heart. During my novitiate I realized that Jesus really loves me. Though I may be very weak, though I am not perfect, Jesus still loves me. Even with my faults and mistakes He accepts me as I am. He understands me, because He knows me. He has known me totally since I was born. In the Gospels it is easy to see His love.
I want to help people come to understand that Jesus loves them. That’s why I am here – so that others may know that Jesus loves them. I am not here to give to them but to simply be with them, to give myself to them, to empathize with them, to help them feel that I am truly with them.