Fr. Claret seems to sketch a profile of the missionary or of “the Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary” in a less attractive manner, at least for current sensibilities. It might seem to be continually confronting negative situations that suppose a lot of effort, privation, work, slander, torment, etc. And as if this were not enough, he wants all to be dealt with joy. Doesn´t it sound like sadism?
Certainly there is a lot that is autobiographical: Fr. Claret had to confront very difficult and painful situations of persecutions, slanders, defamations, murder attempts, etc. Of course, we don´t understand all these if don´t go deep into the motivation that gives an authentic meaning of these sacrifices.
A Christian does not seek sacrifice as such, but he takes it up as a consequence of his loving surrender without reservation. Suffering does not save, but it is love that saves. St. Augustine was saying, “not the pain, but the cause that makes a person a martyr”. The one who loves a lot is prepared to bear whatever pain for the loved one. Fr. Claret expresses this in his Autobiography in the chapter dedicated to love as the most necessary virtue for the missionary, “My neighbour……I love you….. To prove my love for you, I will strive and suffer; I will undergo any work or pain, even death, if necessary, for your sake” (Auto. 448).
What Claret makes clear is that the life of the missionary and the witness cannot be numbed with boredom or routine. He is oriented to great and passionate causes.
To what extent are we ready to manifest our love for God and the neighbour?