The WORD in other words (2018) by Fr Deva Savariyappan SVD – Bangued Abra
Thursday 9th Week in Ordinary Time
All missionaries are expected to learn the local language of the place to which they are sent. For example, St. Joseph Freinademetz learned Chinese for two years when he reached Hong Kong. But there is something more important than learning the local language. According to St. Joseph Freinademetz, “The language that all people understand is that of love.”
St. Paul put it similarly: “I may be able to speak the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell.” Mother Teresa had her own definition: “The greatest hunger in the world today is not for food, but for love.”
St. Arnold Janssen defined love in accordance with the gospel today: “The greatest act of love for neighbor is to preach the good news to them.” Pope Francis says: “In the light of the word of Jesus, love is the measure of faith, and faith is the soul of love: we cannot separate the religious life – the life of piety – from that of service to our brothers and sisters – to those flesh-and- blood brothers and sisters we actually meet.”
Love for God and neighbor impelled St. Joseph Freinademetz to leave his native land and go to China. He might not have mastered the local language but he was able to convert many to Christianity because the people understood and felt his love through his actions.
All of us can imitate him and most specially Jesus who said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” We don’t have to use words, necessarily, to show our love. As the saying goes, “Action speaks louder than words.”