DSC01685The great German writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, rightly put it in one of his works that “Everything is hard before it is easy”. This certainly affirms the famous saying: “A master of patience is master of everything else.” At the back of my mind, and I suppose yours too, springs the question on time line; for how long should one be patient, waiting for the hard things to be easy, or before he becomes master of everything else?

As we close the seventh month of our stay in this new mission, the above becomes our refrain. You have certainly read our previous articles whose contents expressed some feelings of confusion, amazement and sometimes fear. At the same time, however, joy prevailed from encountering the unknown. Well, the first months were rightly so: a feeling of being rather “lost”; basically of being like a child. Apparently time heals it all, but not yet… Seven months are gone and we realize that we are no longer the “children” we used to be; our confusion and fears too are no longer the same. In other words the “hard” realities are slowly starting to become “easy”, at least in some cases, though in other cases things seem to be getting rather complicated…

Hui-an_Temple_2004A typical situation was when we accidentally met this well learned teacher. He was well instructed in the realm of philosophy and showed a good academic background on religions. He has traveled the world and even fluent in Italian. Meaning that he was well versed with the Christian world and Christianity as such. He overheard us speaking Italian and he immediately got interested in knowing who we were. Overjoyed with the fact that at least someone was interested in us, we explained to him that we were religious missionary priests who had newly arrived in Taiwan for purposes of evangelization. To our bewilderment, the “learned friend” engaged us into a rather serious debate.

“Why have you people chosen to come to Taiwan? We don’t need any evangelization here; we have our own religion and we are fine with that. We know your religion too and we don’t need it…”, said the soft spoken man as he continued on and on. At first we didn’t believe our ears because we never expected that kind of approach anyway. Now, what were we to do? As we engaged in a rather academic discussion, we realized that the man was very well informed and exposed to the realm of world religions and had all the reasons to defend his argument, that “they didn’t need us.” Well, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. That was a good stepping stone I suppose, a perfect eye opener to the new reality.

IMG_1419 IMG_1448The above is obviously a typical example of what we encounter here as months go by. All we need is the famous patience; but just as you may agree with me, patience is one of the most difficult virtues to bring into play. Life dictates on us to wait and be patient for many things, and it often proves rather tricky; however, as the above expression goes: “A master of patience is master of everything else.”

The challenge is still on the timeline: for how long should I be patient? This may be rhetorical! But, we well know that Peter too asked a similar question to Jesus only to be disappointed with the answer. He wanted to know how many times he should forgive one who continually wrongs him, and Jesus tells him to do it always! (Mt 18:21-22). I guess this is the same with patience.

640px-Confucius_MonumentRecently, while listening to experiences from old missionaries in Taiwan, both religious men and women, they constantly echoed similar sentiments: “to be a missionary in Taiwan, remember always to have your eyes and ears wide open while keeping your mouth shut!” Now if that doesn’t leave you amazed then you are certainly of a different breed.

This is why at this point in time as we begin our eight month; our earnest prayer to the Lord is to increase our patience. Like in Lk 7:5 when the Apostles, filled with wonder at the teachings of Jesus vis-à-vis their apparent incapability to live up to the expected standard, asked the Lord to increase their faith. I instead ask the Lord to “increase our patience!!!”

Once again we ask for your constant prayers and support as we walk this journey of patience’ meanwhile hoping that the “hard” things will become “easy”, putting all our trust in the Lord.


Fr. Mathews, I have been thinking about the experience you people had with your “learned friend” as relayed in your story/reflection. Surely, until when one steps outside their familiar spaces will they then understand the real meaning of evangelization. Like sheep to…I send you! His Grace is sufficient, lakini mimi…we pray for you.

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