In his homily for the 2018 Marriage Day Mass, Perth Auxiliary Bishop Don recently told the story of his meeting with Filipo, who recalled his life’s journey and the love for his wife.
I met a remarkable man on a recent parish visitation. His name is Filipo. The visit had begun with the celebration of the Mass with the residents of a home for the aged. Afterwards, I visited the residents who were unable to be at the Mass. This was how I came across Filipo who was sitting in the sun.
He greeted me with a hearty, “Buongiorno”. He quickly began telling me something of his life.
Filipo had come to Australia as a young teenager, sent by his family in Italy to live and work for his uncle. He told me that he had learnt to work very hard on the little property his uncle owned. They were long days and hard work.
Eventually, Filipo was able to strike out on his own. He was able to buy a dairy farm, which as anyone who knows this sort of work realises, involves total commitment and hard work. His goal was to be able marry the young lady who had entered into his life and provide for her and a future family.
As Filipo told his story, he repeated several times, how much he loved and admired his wife. He said, “God blessed me with my wife. She was the greatest blessing of God in my life. “Everything I did was for her.”
He had no regrets but felt only gratitude to God for the woman placed in his life. He also said that he was grateful to God for the gift of his children. He loves them and is very proud of them.
Filipo is a contented man. My last glimpse of him as I went on to meet the other residents, was a man sitting in the gentle, spring sunshine at peace and joyful, and above all deeply grateful for his life and the blessings he has received from God.
I have been reflecting on my encounter with Filipo. Here is a man who is able to identify the many moments of grace that have marked his life’s journey. Through these he has come to know the friendship and love of God. He is able to sit comfortably with God who is never far from him.
Filipo still has the greatest love for his wife who has passed away. He cherishes the memories of their lives together where they both received from one another and generously gave to one another. Their mutual helping of each other in achieving their goals and raising their family brought them personal growth and maturity, both humanly and spiritually. They became more because of each other.
Theirs seemed to be a marriage where a partnership flourished. A partnership requires the agreement of both spouses that their values align, and each one’s opinions and views on matters are important. Filipo recognises that the woman he had loved from the beginning was that “other half” who he relied upon and listened to along the journey of their marriage.
They had their differences, but these did not diminish their lives together, but rather enriched them.
The insights of his wife improved the decisions they made. Many times he came to see a much better way to go because of her perspective and wisdom.
As Christmas is approaching, I turn to its story that includes the story of Mary. Throughout the story of God’s interaction with humanity, we find the place of significant women. They were the chosen ones who would cooperate with God in moving his plan for salvation forward at critical stages.
My meeting with Filipo has been yet another illustration of the possibilities that abound when women and men find a way to form respectful and open partnerships, whether in marriage or in any facet of life.
From pages 8 to 9 of Issue 16: ‘Celebrating Women’ of The Record Magazine