The WORD in Other Words by Fr Allan Meechan SVD (Philippines)
Friday Week 16 Ordinary Time, Ex 20:1-17, Mt 13:18-23
Years ago, as a young teacher, L, the only Catholic, joined an international ecumenical summer work camp in France. We spent a month demolishing the interior of a large dormitory in a French monastery on top of a mountain so it could later be converted into a much more spacious chapel. With a little help from the nuns, we had an enjoyable time pulling down ceilings, knocking down walls and taking up floors.
My companions failed to understand the nuns‘ casual attitude to the project. Wolfgang, a burly German engineering student, complained, “In my country every minute of work costs one pfennig, but these nuns don‘t seem to care about time or money!” Danica, an American accountancy student, warned one nun to be careful with all the nails lying on the floor. Her jaw dropped when the sister told her, “Don‘t worry. dear, I‘ve got lots of angels around me to look after me!”
One afternoon I was walking along two beams that had previously supported floorboards which we had just removed. Suddenly the beam under my right foot split into two. I should have fallen three meters but, perhaps with the help of the sister‘s angels and an instinctive push from my left foot, I found myself sprawled across the other beams to the right, with nothing more than a gashed forearm to show for my experience. Wolfgang was both perplexed and annoyed.
Over the years I took part in a number of ecumenical camps. Some have had no tangible results, but simply through taking part I gained a very valuable insight which has grown for me since I became a priest: (as Jesus implied in today‘s parable) often we cannot measure what we are doing, but no Christian action is ever wasted.