How is it possible that a mustard seed turns to a tree? “When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and ‘the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches’ ” (Luke 13:19).
Teachers do not only teach in school, but also need to be nurtured spiritually like little plants. For the plants to grow healthily, fertilizers can work wonders.
In my recollection of the teachers’ formation in the past years, God did fertilize the soil with spiritual food provided by a constellation of angels from the Macau diocese and from different religious congregations in and outside Macau.
Among them is Fr. Domingos Un, known as a master of prayer and contemplation, who gave us words of life, and directed us to love the things that cannot be seen with the eyes of the flesh. We had no way to know how to go about the preparation of the Adoration of Eucharist in school were he not there to give guidance. His love for prayer and liquid speech soothed our weary heart like balm.
In one winter, we invited Fr. Peter Chung to come and share. So wisely, he spoke, “Why not watch movies?” Not a movie fanatic myself, I had the slightest idea which were the good ones. Sitting down in the old parish hall one night , Fr. Chung and I exchanged views on education, and concluded the discussion with a movie of his choice — Mr. Holland’s Opus. On the day of formation, he came, watched the movie together and strengthened us with his new insight on what we should value as educators. We knew he had to attend the prayer meeting for Christian unity that very evening, yet, he still came, amidst the heavy schedule, joyfully, energetically. Time is his gift for us.
The soil on which we grow has also been well nourished by God’s other angels — Order of Friars Minor, Secular Franciscan Order and Salesians of Don Bosco. So wholesome and moisturizing were their fertilizers that we all blossomed.
I remember vividly the “downtime” offered by Fr. Joseph Ha (now the auxiliary bishop of diocese of Hong Kong) during the 80th anniversary pilgrimage to Assisi. As the spiritual director leading 90 teachers, he sensed that some of us might need to understand more about God in a more personal and friendly way. After dinner, he sat on the couch in the hotel lobby, waiting for his visitors. The “downtime” had been turned into a precious moment for God to speak to our hearts again with his humor, his joy, his Franciscan simplicity and much more.
Even that momentary stay with the 80-year-old Fr. Antonio Chung, SDB, was another gift from God. We first met him in the Catacombs of Rome, then three months later he paid us a formal visit — a thirty-minute sharing with the teachers on theology of body and two-hour personal conversation or confession. I sat next to him during lunch, and he said adamantly but lovingly, “Repeat all the words loudly in my left ear. My right one doesn’t work well.” He might not have keen ears, but undoubtedly got keen eyes that allow him to be on the lookout for the sheep entrusted to him by Christ.
The “mustard seed” planted in the garden is growing at a pace the Lord is pleased, thanks to the fertilizers given by these beautiful angels.
The Gardener praises the fragrance of these fertilizers as they all carry the smell of love. Only love. A love that announces the divine word. A love that gathers together God’s family as a brotherhood all of one mind. A love that leads them in the Spirit, through Christ, to God the Father (Lumen Gentium Ch.3 #28).