Sem. Martin Nguyen
Recently, some of my friends told me about their conversion from Buddhism to Catholicism and their journey to find God during our reunion. Those stories have evoked in me many questions about my own faith and trust in the Lord. Their longing for learning about God made them travel very long distance in 1999 from the North where they did not have much chance to get to know about God, to the South of Viet Nam with their modest savings in order to find a catechism class. It is really hard to believe their story if we do not possess the same trust in the Lord as theirs.
This Sunday’s Gospel highlights the power of the Kingdom of God. Some of my friends, after their conversion, keep on searching to know more about God. And only by attending daily mass, by listening to the homilies in order to understand more about Jesus and Bible, they could find peace in their hearts. Their lives were not exempted from hardships but their strong desire to be an authentic disciple of Christ could lead them to find a way out. Their sharing questioned me about do I love to hear the Word of God, do I see God who is guiding me through His powerful Word then let myself to choose God’s will than mine. Indeed, Jesus’ parables on the Kingdom of God invite us to trust totally and patiently in God whose salvific plan will bring about justice at the end of time.
We might be disturbed by the violence of evil in the world and wish to end it by our own effort. However, evil is both within and without us. What we can do is to try our best to do good and find ourselves delighted in doing so as Saint Augustine experienced. We might rush to stop evil within us then get disappointed because of our human limitations. There, trusting in God and in His plan requires us to allow God be the only “director” of our lives. Unless we do not experience the authentic peace and happiness in finding God and in doing His will in our lives, we cannot have motivation and strength to overcome many obstacles in our journey to follow Christ. That peace and happiness coming from God are powerful as the “mustard seed” and the “yeast” in today's Gospel. Once it is sown in a field where there is a longing soul to be transformed, the result is beyond expectation.
My friends now are living a very exemplar Christian life that no hardships can take away their trust in God. One said even when his family had nothing to eat that day, he first went to the altar to pray then go to the market to look for job. And God never abandons him, especially when his only son got severely sick, God saved the boy from immanent death because of the father’s faith. His son is now a very good priest and formator of our diocesan seminary. Another friend of mine becomes a sister who is full of zeal for the salvation of souls in the remote area. Her vocation took her more than 5 years to prepare herself in knowing God through daily mass and Catechism class. She spent all her modest budget to arrive in Ho Chi Minh City to look for Christian formation. She had to find a manual work to pay for her daily expenses. Sadly that the Christian formation was not free as she thought, then she saved her money by eating the same cheapest food everyday. Finally a Jesuit brother found her in the dormitory for female workers during his pastoral work. He introduced her to some sisters and they accepted her. At this moment, waiting another 2 years to profess her final vow does not restrain her from being more fervent in getting to know more about God and doing God’s will in her ministry and life. Both of them are very humble and grateful to God who allows them to know Him and to follow Him in their respective vocation.
Their trust and hope in the Lord become more inspiring to me than any other books I have read. We might doubt when we see more and more bad things in our world. God’s plan is to mix the yeast to “leaven the whole batch”. Are we having the confidence that we are the yeast empowered by God which is strong enough to leaven the whole world? Without wholeheartedly collaborating with God, it is impossible. Are we doing our best to answer God’s call in our lives or our own comfort pulls us back? Are we always ready to die for self in order for God to use us for His plan of salvation? If not, we understand why we cannot end or “pull up” totally the evil in our world. We need both “labor without counting the cost” and trusting unconditionally in our loving God as if we are His “useless servants”.
Only then, we will focus all of our attention on doing God’s will in our lives. Yes, we cannot end evil by our own effort but we can lessen it at first by our personal commitment then “the yeast” by God’s blessings will leaven our surroundings, our community and country. Jesus uses parables containing common things of our daily life to bring us to the mystery of the Kingdom of God. We might get used to those things till the point that we do not amaze at the wonder in nature.
Likewise, God’s way is often obscure to those who do not search for God neither appreciate the grace of God in their lives. Some of my friends found their “hearts burn within” them when they hear the Word of God. They also got discouraged but not loosing their trust and hope. Their lives were transformed and now become “yeast” to leaven the small batch surrounding them.
May we see God in all things, in all smallest events of our lives in order to know His will then to do it with a generous heart! Hardships, difficulties or challenges are always the opportunity for us to see whether we are faithful, strong and preserving in our commitment to be with Jesus in fighting evil with Him until the end of time.
Even when we fail to do so, we should not lose hope but stand up strongly to continue following Jesus since He is the only one can lead us to the authentic peace and happiness promised by our loving Father for those who always trust in Him.