Bresillac and the Spirituality of Doggedness
John 1:35-42/ Matthew 15:21-28
My favourite quote from Bresillac is the following. “My work will live as long as there is willingness to continue it and you will be this willingness”. I have seen this in many of the success stories of SMA engagement in mission. For every achievement you celebrate out there, you can not underestimate the power of a positive mindset. The Society of African Missions should have died a natural death after the demise of Bresillac. Whatever impact he had on Planque that helped to sustain the survival of this laudable missionary group is worthy of commendation. When we look back to our forebears and the labour they put into evangelising many of our African countries, we should carry the name SMA with pride.
I attended St. Theresa’s Minor Seminary, Oke-Are, Ibadan. I know from history that the current location of that school used to be regarded as an evil forest. As a young boy, I remember the expression “Igbo Agala”. It was this forsaken place that was given to the missionaries hoping they would meet their death. There is a church standing on that hill today reminding us of the doggedness of the missionary spirit. The Formation House where we all thrive today is as a result of the dogged spirit of the mind behind it. My first mission in the Afram Plains in Ghana was challenging but we made the best of our experience with Fr. Benedict Tinka. I am sure that Fr. Wilfred preceded us in Oku, in Afram Plains as well. Every SMA should have an experience of Primary Evangelisation because this will prepare you for the simple life style we so celebrate. The missionary life is not an easy life but it is a fulfilling life. I would be the first to admit that it could be difficult on mission sometimes, especially as we mostly come from simple backgrounds. Admittedly, we need support. We also must not shy away from making sacrifices as our benefactors and benefactresses make sacrifices for our missions. In that prayer, it is said that only by their sacrifices can we continue. In Matthew 19: 27, Peter was faced with a dilemma that we may all face in mission; “we have given up everything and followed you. What will be there for us? If you read that passage till verse 30, you will see that consolation comes after sacrifices. God always has a way of compensating for sacrifices done.
Bresillac was faced with similar situations as we face in vocations today. In his “Retreat to Missionaries”, he asked questions. “What are you looking for? Quid queritis? The joy of ministry? Don’t come here. For friendships, for recognition, consolations, in return for that you do? Don’t come here. You will find all of that in Europe… But if, faithful to your vocation you accept, in all its depths, a life of sacrifice; if you are looking for Jesus alone, the poor Jesus, the humble and humiliated Jesus, Jesus crucified, ah! Then come! Hasten to run after Him come! I have worked in a place where I encountered hostility and I have worked where I felt appreciated. It is all part of the dynamics of mission. I would love that we take as our reflection today John 1:35-42.
In Matthew 15:21-28, we experience the doggedness of the Canaanite woman and how with consistency, she gained the favour of the Lord. The doggedness of our missionary engagement is not just a dry spell. There shall eventually be moments of consolation and satisfaction.
Fr. Tee, SMA