Since last December we have been talking and reflecting a lot upon MERCY. Jesus says in the Gospel of St Mathew “Blessed are those who practice the justice, mercy and fidelity” (Cf. 23, 23).
I would like to share an experience of mine that marked my vocational journey as a Claretian Missionary in India, where I was fortunate to spend a year with Santal Tribe, who taught me to live the life to the fullest in the present moment with joyful hope.
It was in 2006, the year of Mission experience, I was deputed at Sahari Mission in the state of West Bengal, India before staring my Theology. After having learnt Santali, I was given with responsibility of different tuition centers. The routine was to go in the morning to reach the tribal habitation, having crossed rivers, forest and tasting the fruits of jungle as well as visiting different families and return back in the evening. Portrayal of their civility begins with welcoming the strangers warmly and making them more comfortable within their dwelling. Treating the unacquainted as their own family and expecting nothing in return is the best part of any human life, which they practiced. I can tell you that, days spent with them was a wonderful and rewarding experience. However, my heart ‘yearned for more’. Thus, I decided to live with them for a month, participate with them in their joys, sufferings and contribute to their well-being. Above all, I had lots to learn from them.
I was much impressed with their way of life. Their ability to ‘LIVE TO THE FULLEST IN THE PRESENT WITH A JOYFUL HOPE’ is an inspiration to any. Be it any happy or sorrowful situation, they live in harmony. They influenced me to change my way of perceiving the world and people. They taught me all that Philosophy course could not teach the previous three years. They taught me to be more merciful, joyful and humble. Having a wonderful experience of one month in their place I continued to work with them for a year. However, after completion of a month, I encountered two unfortunates. One was that I fell ill and the other was more traumatising – death of my friend, who was also a catechist of Sahari Mission.
While I look back at those moments, my experiences are overwhelmed with mercy of God and people of Santal Tribe. Things learnt in a year are with me forever which I can apply in my life’s journey. They are useful when I deal with immigrant youth in Canada who are like a sandwich found between ‘the culture of their parents and North American culture’. There is a constant struggle and choice to be made to be merciful. I would like to finish my story with a new definition that I give to MERCY.
Meeting young people where they are in their own condition
Embracing them with Christian charity and joyful hope
Reveling the presence of Jesus Christ with humility and courage
Contributing to the realization of God’s kingdom with them
Yearning for more spiritual closeness with God and accompanying them with tender love.
Reegan Soosai CMF
Missionary in Canada