It's almost 10 years since this was written. It's taken from our OFM worldwide newsletter, FRATERNITAS No. 45 - 07.1999. I still remember how I was astounded by the call. Since then, I have been thinking about missions. And I am still. Perhaps I should start seeing myself in Taiwan as a missionary?
"No one can stop the work of the Spirit"
Br. Giacomo Bini, speaking to the Provincial Ministers of Europe
In our franciscan vocation the Lord uses the most diverse circumstances and events to call us to Himself. Our journey takes place in a particular house, in a particular Province.
But the Lord has called us for the sake of his Kingdom, not for the sake of our Province.
Thus it was for the disciples in the days after Pentecost. Thus it was for Francis when he understood the nature of his vocation, after hearing the Word of God. Thus, too, for the first friars, still few in number; their "option for the lepers" took on a universal dimension of evangelization. They would go out to all the lepers of the world, not waiting until the lepers of Assisi were attended to first, the lepers of "one's own Province." We are not called to tend our own "closed garden" first, and only then to care for what is "outside!"
A local or provincial fraternity that is weighed down with too many things to do "at home," with too many personal projects - however good in themselves - loses out on its own vocation, which is to participate in the mission of Jesus: "Receive the Holy Spirit ... go out into the whole world!"
Many of our vocations are born from missionary experiences and missionary aspirations. Today, too, many young people carry in their hearts this desire/expectation which is failing to find expression. There are many friars, too, willing to take up again the itinerant path of evangelization.
The Order has initiated international missionary projects which are dying through lack of friars. In some areas of the world, of course, for various reasons, the Order's presence is declining. But does this allow us to betray our missionary evangelization? Are not the poor, perhaps, the most generous? Can a Minister Provincial, in the name of the needs of his Province, justifiably block a missionary call? Our Rule is clear: no one can impede the work of the Spirit!