Perhaps you’ve heard the extraordinary story of John Chau, the young Christian missionary who tried to bring the Gospel to North Sentinel Island, one of the most remote and isolated communities in the world, and who, for his trouble, was killed before he even got past the beach. His endeavor has inspired a whole range of reactions — outrage, puzzlement, sympathy, deep admiration — and has stirred up in many people, both religious and secular, questions about the missionary nature of Christianity.
Perhaps it sounds strange to say that God is humble, to suggest that the God who created heaven and earth, who eternally IS and who holds everything in the palm of his hand, is anxious for us to make his acquaintance and become his intimate friends. That is a tall order and quite an expectation, especially when some religions consider God to be eternally unreachable and distant. We Christians know that things are quite different: God is humble, God is loving, God is merciful, and God desires our friendship. In fact, he has created us to be fulfilled and at peace in a real relationship with him.
One afternoon almost 47 years ago, Father Thomas called me into his office at the seminary to tell me my father had died earlier that day. I remember with fondness his gentle hesitation, his respect for my silent response. The task that fell to him that day would bind us together as the years went by, until his own death several years later. No, not just until — even beyond his death. Life has taught me that death does not put the final limit on relationships or on what we can learn from them; I say that because I know my father better now than I did the day he died.