Catholic Church of Korea is sending missioners both lay, religious and clerical to overseas missions in greater numbers, and we are beginning to hear stories about their experiences. Many are diocesan priests who volunteer for a period of years and return to their dioceses and pastoral work.
One such priest writes about his experience after two parishes in which he worked as an assistant and sent to Bolivia. Missioners receive a certain amount of formation but they usually are persons with a recent desire for mission so the thought and new experience brings fear. How was he going to live by himself and adapt to the new culture? He spends some time in his article for the diocesan bulletin, explaining one of the difficulties he brought upon himself.
He was at a mission station that became a parish. One of the girls in the mission station came to speak to him. He had finished the study of Spanish and worked in the parish for about 3 months but when the girl spoke he didn't understand her. He asked the girl to repeat what she said and she did, and this continued a number times. He told her: "padre, no entiende nada" (Father doesn't understand anything).
As soon as he heard these words he uttered, he was overcome with anger and returned home. He felt disregarded and his self esteem plummeted. His guilty conscience made him so distraught he was not able to sleep that night. With time he regained his composure. He reflected on what transpired that day, and realized the reason for his anger was not the child but himself.
An adult, a priest he felt snubbed and it was hard to accept. His self worth had been damaged and he looked strait into the face of his pride. It was a great learning experience.
He thanked the child for helping him to face his problem. Because of his position there is the danger of looking down on others; when his own self esteem is hurt he can lose his stability.
We are all of us of great value. Jesus gave us a running description of how to accept being snubbed and disregarded and we know who he was. Humility and love were his response.