Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

"Whoever wants to be great..."

This is Father Richard Ho Lung, the founder of the Missionaries of the Poor, who while headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica, are actively present around the world, where there is the deepest poverty. It is the practice of these missionary priests, brothers and sisters, that after morning prayers they go out into the streets to find the dirtiest person, who they then wash. 

After checking out their website, I spoke by telephone with the Vocation Director and asked, "Why are there clearly no Americans among the members of your growing community?" He laughed a little and said, "It's too tough; you can't do it." Hmm. What was he saying? - that we are soft, spoiled, over-indulged, entitled, measured in our generosity, distracted? Fair enough question.

Several weeks ago, before Lent, there was a reflection here on Mark's Gospel, chapter 10, verses 35-40.  Apostles James and John have asked Jesus to be chosen as important figures in Jesus' cabinet when he comes into power. Here are the verses which follow:
When the other ten heard this, they were indignant with James and John. Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that in the world the recognized rulers lord it over their subjects, and their great men make them feel the weight of authority. This is not the way with you; among you whoever wants to be great must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the willing slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to surrender his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:41-45
We might imagine the other ten apostles were indignant because James and John asked Jesus for prominence ahead of themselves. "Dang, they asked first!" 

Our nation recently voted on greatness: "Make America Great Again," and then we dropped the so-called Mother of All Bombs to make the point. But Jesus has another idea: no power, serve others, be a willing slave of all.  YIKES!

These religious communities don't exist to make us feel guilty, but to be pointers. Saint Francis of Assisi said, "I cannot do everything, but I can do something." There it is.


  1. God bless the men and women who do the things that others are not willing or not able to do.

  2. Father, why do you think that there are no Americans among these missionaries? Do American men not join their order or do they try it and then leave? Wouldn't you say that vocations are down all together and especially from American men and women. I have never heard of Missionaries of the Poor. It appears that they do good works for the poor, like the Missionaries of Charity, started by Mother Teresa, working with the poor and infirm. I know that I could never be the person necessary to do what they do.

  3. The Missionaries of the Poor are indeed very much like the Missionaries of Charity - they serve the most poor people - a kind or depth of poverty which would shock most Americans. The vocation director told me that no American has stayed long enough to make vows. This would suggest some have applied and begun their training but don't stay. The vocation directory simply said about this: "It's too tough; you can't do it." A polite way of saying Americans are soft. It doesn't matter that you and I could not do what the Missionaries of the Poor do - only that we do WHAT WE CAN DO. That pleases God. Am I too soft? By comparison to a Missionary of the Poor? Yes.

  4. I believe that by finding happiness in what you do helps you to be able to DO more for others. A joyful heart makes it easier to pass on happiness to others.

  5. A beautiful post Fr. Stephen, it is great to keep in front of our mind where Am I, to lazy, afraid fearful or delicate to do what God is asking of me? I recently read something that God uses unconventional ways to teach us lessons and enable/prepare us to do His Ultimate Will for us. As an addict if active addiction you are constantly searching for 'purpose' and 'meaning'. When I learned that God had a will and plan just for me it started to change the way I look at life. How I see how God has directed me thus far brings me nothing but excitement for his plan is continuously unraveling in my life.

  6. I had a friend, Mother Placid, a French nun who whenever people would talk about plans, dreams or possibilities she would end by saying, "What God wants." God has wondrously brought you to today - you're his boy. He won't leave you disappointed.