I would like to dedicate this post to my friend, Leonard Ethan Mah before he flies of to Myanmar and start his journey of becoming a Jesuit Priest, tomorrow – 28th Feb 2015.
We met back in 2009, during a Catholic Students Apostolates (CSA) Camp before university started. He was quite an odd ball but he is also one of the kindest and most humble person I have known. We weren’t very close from the beginning. But, somehow, through school activities and life events, we just started getting closer to each other.
Leonard usually helps us in playing praise and worship Songs or opening up his house for gatherings. You see, Leonard believes that everything that he has can be used to praise God. And actually puts his money where his mouth is. We have numerous stories of how he chose the cheapest alternative (ie, backpacked in shoestring budget, resided in the school’s canteen, etc) to save money even though his mom is trembling with worry.
Seriously, please should meet us (or better yet, his mom!) to hear the endless stories. I think someone ought to compile it. But, if anyone asks Leonard for his reasoning, it’s either due to his was of doing something good, saving money, or pure naïvety. He really doesn’t have any ulterior motives. Honestly, sometimes, I don’t know if he’s silly, stingy, or he just really believes in God’s providence that much. But, it does work for him. And, sometimes, I even feel embarrassed of myself for not doing the same thing.
After we graduated, Leonard and I met up more often. I think I was looking for a job while he was discerning to become a priest. So, we’ll meet up for Novena Devotions and just catch up with each other. It was really nice to be with someone whom you feel like having to prove yourself. It was just simple and honest conversation with a friend. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Leonard openly talks about God.
In fact, at one point in time, I was looking for a community for journey with and it was Leonard who introduced me to the young adults community in Christ The King Church, W4. Not only did I meet new friends there, I also eventually met my boyfriend there too. Indeed, Leonard has brought me closer to Christ in more ways than one. He shows me how friendly and approachable God can be and even opens provides me ways towards Him. Whenever I attribute this to Leonard, he gets uncomfortable, declines the praise, and says it is all God’s work. Well, thank you God for choosing an awesome conduit of Your blessings. Heh!
Honestly, it’s no surprise to any of us that Leonard would eventually want to become a priest. He was already imitating Christ and proclaiming His Word even before Leonard himself realised it. Plus, he has tons of Christian jokes which I’m sure he’s dying to share during homilies.
Instead, I would like to share how I deeply admire Leonard’s decision. More so, now that I’m searching for my next step. Firstly, it takes a lot of humility on his part to listen to what God has to say. I think he has prayed about this for 2-3 years before Leonard became certain that this is what he is called to do. And even then, the amount of love, obedience, and courage he must have to say yes. Wow! Even though Leonard has always been thrifty, letting go of his prized possessions (clothes, books, guitars, etc) weren’t an easy sacrifice to make. In addition, by taking up this “job” or “vocation,” he had to leave behind his career in accountancy and his family. Being the only male in the family, I know Leonard feels bad for not being able to financially support his parents or even accompany them at home. In addition, he is going to Myanmar for his “training” which is far far away from anyone he knows.
Sometimes, I can sense Leonard’s worry and fear when he shares about “preparing and packing” before he leaves. I can only imagine how it feels. But, at the same time, I can also see the joy and excitement in Leonard’s eyes as he take these steps. He is definitely much more radiant and at peace now. And this reminds me of Matthew’s Gospel “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Indeed, I’m sure Our Father is looking pleasingly upon my friend.
So, to my dear friend, Leonard, thank you so much for everything. It has been a great honour and pleasure being your friend. But the greater privilege is having the opportunity to witness how Christ have worked His grace and blessing in your life and how you’ve humbled and open yourself to His call. Keep it up and may He always be with you. I shall look forward to your “newsletter” emails. Meanwhile, I will also always pray for you – that God may always protect you, provide for you, and bless you for the next two years and the rest of your life.