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A Message from Deacon Peter Tran

When I was very young, I remember reading a story from an elderly person. He said, when he was 5 years old, he wanted to change the whole world. But, when he was 20, he realized he couldn’t do it. Then, he tried to change his country only. But, when he was 40, he realized he couldn’t do it. Then, he wanted to change his family. But, when he was 60, he realized that he couldn’t do it. Then, finally, he wanted to change himself, and he wished he could have known to change himself sooner.

 

Brothers and sisters, I think that it might happen to us as well. We sometimes want to change  everything and everyone around us, but we forget that we first have to change ourselves. To change ourselves is never easy!

 

No one normally wants to love those who do not deserve our love, to be kind to those who sometimes are not kind to us, to reach out to those whom we don’t like, or to forgive those who have hurt us many times and do not deserve our forgiveness. But God invites us to be like him. To love like he loves, to be kind like he is, to forgive like he forgives us.

 

How privileged we are that our God invites us to imitate him! You know, many Catholics have been persecuted because of their faith in our world, but they always learn from Jesus to love their persecutors and forgive them and pray for them.

 

Many of you might know Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận. In April 1975, communists took over Vietnam. On August 15, 1975, Francis Xavier was kidnapped at his bishop’s house. Without ever being tried or sentenced, he was taken to North Vietnam where he was imprisoned for 13 years, nine of which were spent in solitary confinement.

 

In his jail, he tried to say mass every day. While saying mass, he would kneel with only one drop of  water and three drops of wine in his palm. The jail became his cathedral, and his parishioners were  some prisoners.

 

On November 21, 1988, he was released. He shared that during his time of imprisonment, the Eucharistic celebration was the strength that helped him overcome his difficulties. Francis knew that Jesus loved him, he was also invited to love others too. Therefore, Francis always strove to love the jailers who abused him. Some of the jailers were so moved by his example, and that they later converted to Christianity.

 

Moreover, we know that our God does not think we are just His creatures. There is a huge gap between the Creator and the creatures, but God wants us to be like Him. He also gives us the highest symbol of love, as he is hung on the cross: On the cross, he embraces the many wounds of our human wickedness and injustice. He transforms all of them to become his love and forgiveness as he looks at those who want to kill him, and prays for them, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

 

So, let us change ourselves as we imitate Jesus, so that we every day become like Him who is our God, and our Saviour. Amen.

 

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