“Wan fu Maliya…” I tried my best to follow along with the rosary, but the prayers in this foreign Asian language were twisting and tangling in my mouth. Moving the beads in my hands, I looked at the faces of the people following us with their eyes. Our group was not something seen in this big Asian city every day: priests, seminarians, sisters, and laity processing through the streets, led by a statue of a lady in blue, covered in roses.
As we entered the market, I saw a group of Buddhist monks staring intently. Our unfamiliar presence had quieted the normal bustle. Mary was walking the streets with us, bringing her Son to a place unfamiliar with Him.
That day, May 13, 2017, marked one hundred years since a lady in white appeared to three shepherd children in Portugal, though it was not the first time this woman had brought a message to little ones. She spoke to an illiterate French girl in her own dialect. She spoke comfort – “Do not be troubled. Am I not here, who am your mother?” – to a poor indigenous man in Mexico. She carried Jesus in her womb to her cousin. Mary has shown us what it means to be a missionary.
I had no idea what ministry, what mission would look like here. I knew we would be primarily serving college students, but how would that look in this country?
Mostly, I have been busy with coffee dates, fast lunches in between classes, and visiting my neighbor who only speaks the local language (and knows I understand little). For a while, I thought those things unworthy of the title “ministry,” but isn’t any action that brings Jesus to the people ministry? Just like Mary, we carry Christ within us; wherever we go – even if we do not utter his name – our joy, our peace, our presence, and our lives proclaim Jesus! Just as Mary brought Jesus within her womb to her cousin Elizabeth, we bring Jesus within our hearts to every person who meets our gaze.
As the procession reached the church, I noticed children peeking around telephone poles and sneaking into our group. While praying in the sanctuary, I turned around and saw the children had followed us into the chapel. Straining to see over the pews, they searched intently, looking for a lady in blue, surrounded by roses. When they couldn’t find her, their interest turned toward the golden box in the sanctuary…
Mary always brings us to Jesus. We see that at Fatima, at Lourdes, in Mexico, and at the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Let us joyfully imitate her, living a life of presence, always carrying Jesus within us to the little ones who do not yet know Him.
[Editor’s Note: Due to possible religious persecution in some countries, names have been changed and any references to specific countries and languages have been either replaced or removed.]
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