‘As for me and my household we will serve the Lord’ Joshua 24:15
The Pontifical Mission Society’s work is critical to the success of the Church, yet it often goes unheralded. National Director of the Mission Society in New Zealand, Fr Bernard Espiritu svd, has much wisdom gained from his experiences in Brazil, Australia and at the United Nations in New York.
Last month, Fr Bernard shared his wisdom and guidance at a one-day retreat for the Joshua Catholic Men’s Fellowship at the Home of Compassion in Island Bay. Fr Bernard began by asking ‘What is holiness?’ He connected it with wholesomeness. ‘How we relate to God is connected with how we relate to others. We cannot go to the Father unless we go to the brother.’
‘We need to be covered with the dust of the master. Disciples are covered with the dust of their master and the disciples Jesus chose were not the best of the best. God’s criteria for judging is to be faithful not necessarily successful.’ We were reminded we have been called by one who believes in us. ‘Believe me,’ said Fr Bernard, ‘you are really good’ and he challenged us each to bring out our better self.
‘When Simon and Andrew were called by Jesus to follow him they accept the offer. The 12 disciples are not the best of the best but they are chosen and they will change the world. And as Christians we are called to change the world.’
Fr Bernard said Jesus is a gentleman. ‘He knocks on the door but he never gate-crashes. We have to invite him in. When we invite Jesus into our lives, we recognise him in the breaking of the bread, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus. We become excited and enthusiastic with our hearts on fire.’
We are challenged to live with joy. ‘Catholics who are always in the Lenten season do not enjoy Easter. You are the Gospel of the Lord,’ said Fr Bernard.
We completed our day with the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. It was a day well spent, in the good company of faithful men, in a spiritual setting and led by an insightful priest – a gift to us from the Philippines.
Thank you to Fr Bernard for your insights, to Joshua Catholic Men’s Fellowship for organising the day, and to the Home of Compassion sisters for hosting us.
Peter Woods is a member of the Joshua Catholic Men’s Fellowship, Wellington.