By Martin,sx

Several times, I have been an eyewitness of the many troubles that some of my classmates face with regard to the use of English. Though they have clear in their minds what they would like to say, the verbal expression of their thoughts is most of the time a hard exercise.  Not being myself a fluent English speaker, I often wonder why these brave Brothers and Sisters have to struggle with English. Given that most of them are coming from countries where English is not widespread, why don’t they stay in their native land and enjoy their national languages that they perfectly know? I was pondering upon these questions when it dawned to me that I can never understand the reality of these classmates unless I take into consideration a crucial factor: they are Missionaries.

Only a Missionary can truly leave his home together with all the securities it offers in order to venture towards the insecurities of the unknown. These classmates of mine have left behind the comfort that the fluent use of their native language provides. They have opted to face courageously the uneasiness that lies at the heart of learning an absolute foreign language. Though one may look at them and laugh, there is yet a deep significance in their struggle: they are Missionaries. They are people impulsed by the love of Christ for all. It is only in the context of that Love that their language struggle should be understood.

This calls to my mind the sort of the vast army of Missionaries dispersed all over the world for the sake of Jesus of Nazareth and his Gospel. Most of them are sent far away from their homes, in places where they have not only to pick up a new language but also to go through cultural, psychological and sociological dynamics. And this does not happen without obviously anxiety, pain and tears. Often, disappointment, discouragement and tiredness get along with the process of inculturation. But they willingly endure and undergo the death of their selves so that Christ may be born in the people to whom he has sent them. This is an extraordinary phenomenon that escapes the understanding of business organizations, international firms and Non Governmental Organisms. This is something that goes beyond the grasp of the Missionary himself. For this reason, I would like to say a word of credit for all these heroic men and women, breakers of boundaries and builders of bridges among disparate nations by the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ. To all Missionaries going to distant lands and to those already engaged in the fields of mission I say with the Prophet: “Beautiful are the feet of the messengers of the good tides”.

At the dawn of the history of salvation, a man was requested by God to follow the same path of all today’s Missionaries. That man, Abraham, left his country, his parents’ house and the land of his ancestors. He went toward an unknown destination, obedient to the will of God. As he peregrinated through new territories, he gradually understood that Home is every place where God is present.  Therefore, we Missionaries, though away from Home are at Home wherever we are sent. For the Spirit of the Lord fills the whole universe with God’s presence.

As we venture out, trotting in the roads of the world and holding dear in our hearts the Gospel of grace to be shared with all, we look forward to that Home where God will be all in all. Like the three wise men who came from afar to worship the King of the Jews, we walk by faith and not by sight.


  1. Thanks Martin for tackling the issue of language learning as missionaries. Certainly the issue of broken language nowadays is far larger than the preoccupation of a handful of missionaries. Nearly every country of the world has become home to thousands, and in some cases even millions of foreigners, most of whom lack fluency in speaking the local language. I always find inspiration in the Filipinos who motivated by the possibility of earning a better salary and the joy of helping to improve their family’s quality of life, put all their hearts in learning well the language of the country where they are, no matter how difficult is is. In the case of religious people, the Gospel is far more precious than any financial compensation. How come that some missionaries have no motivation to learn the local language? Are they really missionaries? One may wonder if it is really the Gospel what motivates certain people to be consecrated in the Church.

  2. Thank you brother Martin for your meaningful article. The person of Abraham is really relevant in order to describe the missionary life. He teaches us how to trust in God and how to live as a pilgrim of the love of God. Your article reminded me also to the Letter of Diognetus, when the writer, trying to define who the Christians are, says: “Any country can be their homeland,” because Jesus Christ “has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,” as Saint Paul told us. Therefore, in Jesus Christ we all are children of God.
    Thank you also for the other articles.

    Fr. Thiago

  3. Vivinio Matugas Jr.

    Thank you too Martin. Nice reflection. I would say, a home away from home.
    Are you taking Fr. Kroger today? Your Christology is very Kroegerian.

  4. Well, in my personal opinion it´s a matter of discipline and constant sacrifice. Sometimes people privilege other activities like visiting friends, places, searching on internet, etc. In order to learn a new language it´s necessary to spend lots of hours of personal study but that´s not attractive for all seminarians. In addition you need a good advisor and the fraternal feedback from the people you´re living with. Everything is possible but we like to excuse ourselves using pretexts.

    Greeting to all of you from Mexico.

    Miguel Escoto

    • Indeed the world of possibilities is infinite. Our achievements depend on our real motivations, the real purpose that drives us. Nice to hear from you! Thanks for the greetings! Wish you all the best!

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