By Karen Sheehy
Reflecting upon today’s readings, I was immediately brought back to the island of Borneo where my husband and I vacationed for the better part of June.
“Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, proclaim it on distant isles, and say: He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together, he guards them as a shepherd his flock” (Jeremiah 31:10).
I was excited about our trip but slightly apprehensive, given the spiritual exhilaration I had experienced that prior weekend. I was the emcee at our second Louisiana WINE Catholic Women’s Conference, entitled, “An Anchor of Hope.” WINE is all about gathering, nurturing and sending forth women of faith. Like God, WINE recognizes the beauty, unity, and diversity found within the One Body of Christ. Over three hundred strong, each offered their unique sorrows, joys, hopes, and dreams, and found the Lord’s consolation and hope along the way. Our day was filled with powerful testimonies, praise and worship, Eucharistic Adoration, Confessions, and prayer teams. Fortified and united, we offered a single hymn of praise to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst and God has visited his people. Alleluia, alleluia” (Lk 7:16).
In Borneo, I experienced this same kind of divine unity amidst God’s creative diversity. Although I left with hopes of finding orangutans, once there, I found so much more. Northern Borneo, located in the nation of Malaysia, is not only diverse in its natural beauty, but also in its cultural and religious practices. It is home to a vast array of wildlife, including orangutans. Did you know that this majestic animal contains over 96.3% of human genetics? Over the weeks, as I watched the eating habits, maternal instincts, and patient endurance of many orangs, I found this fact very believable. Despite our similarities, however, one sure thing sets us apart. Humans are made in the very image and likeness of God, made to give Him praise and to proclaim His word on distant isles. This, the Church has done, even on the far-off island of Borneo.
The northern part of Borneo, where my husband and I spent much of our time, is 80% Christian. It represents a spiritual oasis of sorts amidst Malaysia’s many faith traditions, including Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. One Sunday, in the small town of Lahad Datu, we found St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, and joyfully joined our brothers and sisters in Christ at Mass. It was a beautiful celebration, as our Spanish born priest united his diverse congregation into one united song of praise and thanksgiving. There, like the woman in today’s Gospel, we each found healing and spiritual rejuvenation. That Sunday, in this far-off region of the world, I found my Eucharistic Lord and shepherd. His healing presence, made visible at St. Dominic’s and at the LA WINE Conference one week earlier, is universal, as is the diverse and unified beauty of His One Body, the Church.
About the author:
Karen Sheehy is a devout Catholic, wife and mother, motivational speaker, blogger, president of a non-for-profit, and developer of spiritualsafariguide.com, your passport to a world of spiritual inspiration and understanding. To learn more about Karen Sheehy and her newly released book entitled, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love, please visit http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com
Picture courtesy of Karen Schwaner Sheehy in Borneo, Malaysia (June 23, 2018). Used with permission. All rights reserved.