Last year when Eugene and I visited Edmonton, we went to church with his mother. The service she always attended was in Cantonese, so we didn’t understand much of it, but a kind lady sitting next to me did whisper some translations in English to me. Mom was very proud to show off her son to all of her church friends and pastors. At one point during the middle of the service, the pastor said something. People turned to look at us, and Mom yelled something out back to the pastor. Everybody giggled. The lady next to me told me the pastor had mentioned that May’s son and daughter-in-law are here, and that Mom had said we don’t understand any Cantonese. After the service one lady asked me in English why we didn’t come to the service they had in English. I told her we came to worship with Mom, and that I’m happy to worship God in any language.
Eugene’s mom died this past week, we’re in Edmonton, and it feels like the right thing to do to go to the Cantonese service at Mom’s church this morning. I expect I’ll understand less of what is being said this year than last year, but again, that’s not what matters.
I am reminded of something said often by Mother Teresa, who just a few hours ago was canonized by Pope Francis and is now St. Teresa of Calcutta: “Perhaps I do not speak their language, but I can smile.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.