RECENTLY a friend took me out for my birthday dinner.  We had worked together for many years.  So, at a certain point, he asked what wisdom about life I could share.

Initially, I thought “Wisdom! Have I got wisdom?”  Thinking about it, however, I realized that in my long life I have had many good as well as bad experiences.  These are like free gifts, the wisdom coming with the experience of life, for which I cannot take any credit.  It is as it were the daily manna, the food for reflection and meditation.

Thus, in response to his question, I said: my life seems like a long journey during which I am discovering more and more “Who I truly am”. 

If knowledge, taught in school, has prepared me for a job, the wisdom coming from the experience of life, has helped me to know what I was meant to do, and how I could do things better or well. 

For instance, in sports one can learn how to play badminton and even desire to be a champion, but seeing you play will show you or others what ability you have. 

There are many things in life we wanted to do or wanted to be, but life shows us what we should do or should be.  When I was recruited for a highly administrative job, my superior told me bluntly, “Guido, you are not foremost an administrator, so why let your obvious pastoral gift go to waste?” 

Many people want to be successful. They measure life in terms of success without really knowing what that success is.

You can see this for instance, in parents who make unrealistic demands on their children about grades, sports and the like.

But we also do this to ourselves, thinking what I want to be, but only to discover later that I was not made for this. Thus, hit and miss, trial and error, often shape our lives.

Ultimately, real success is to discover “Who I truly am”.  This we find in God who “knows me and knits me together in my mother’s womb” Psalm 139.

Real success is to know what God had in mind when he created me. As the prophet says about him “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55: 8-9. One can see the reality of this passage in the life of Jesus.

In the gospel of Luke we read, “She wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”  Imagine, the Lord and Creator of heaven and earth “came into his own home”, as the gospel of John says, and there was no place for him. 

He met with utter rejection to the point that they killed him by nailing him to the cross. If you and I were in Jesus’ position, wouldn’t we want to do what the apostles suggested, “Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them? But Jesus rebuked them” Luke 9: 54-55 

In this, we can see how far Jesus’ thought is from our way of doing things. He comes to us as a baby and humbly accepts being cared for by his mother as any mother would care for her baby by changing his diapers.

St Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians about this utter humility of Jesus that dominated all his thinking and actions. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God, a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2: 5-8

Understanding just this little about Jesus’ absolute humility is the pearl of wisdom I wish to share.

 

Question:

Where do I react like the apostles, and what should I do to follow Jesus?

 

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Fr Guido Gockel MHM

A member of St Joseph’s Missionary Society of Mill Hill, headquartered near London, Father Guido was ordained a priest in 1969. Shortly after ordination, he was sent to Malaysia (Sarawak) where he served as a missionary for 18 years. 

While on a vacation to Sabah, he was introduced to a group of young people who had become involved in the Charismatic Movement (CCR). This experience helped him to be instrumental in introducing CCR to Miri, Sarawak, where he was assigned to a mission outpost. 

Since his first missionary stint of seven years in the early 70’s, he has been back to Malaysia three more postings,  and numerous short visits. He has acquired a basic knowledge of “Melayu pasar” and other languages of Sarawak

Catholic Sabah has the privilege of being acquainted with Fr Guido, who has been generous in giving his time to write for a year under the column titled “I’m on My Way” since the launching of the Catholic Sabah online portal in 2020.

With a little encouragement, Fr Guido has agreed to continue to write, and thus Catholic Sabah decided to upload his writings, once every month, in both English and Bahasa Melayu. Father is open to questions, to offer further discussion/explanation. He can be reached through email or whatsapp @ frguidomhm@gmail.com.