(Isaiah29: 17-24 & Matthew 9: 27-31)
Advent is a good time for us to contemplate God’s love and care for human beings. In our Jesuit perspective, God’s love could be seen through two aspects of “cura personalis”(which means care for the person) and “cura apostolica”(which means apostolic care). Allow me to share with you my reflection on today’s reading and Gospel in the context of Father General’s current visit to Vietnam Province.
God’s care for His people
In the first reading, Prophet Isaiah announced God’s promise of his “cura personalis”to Israel in exile: In a short time, He will come to deliver his people from the slavery and bring them home. These words brought great consolation and true hope to His people, encouraging them to remain faithful to God’s commandments and especially not to drop again their dignity as members of God’s chosen nation. Through Prophet Isaiah, God has shown his cura to Israel.
God’s love to His people is also shown through His “cura apostolica”. In fact, sufferings never come from God’s will, but out of Mercy, He has used sufferings to purify those He loves, so that through their experiences of awaiting for the salvation and healing, they learned how to transform their wrongdoings in the light of God’s words.
In the Gospel, the healing of the physical blindness of two blind men seems not the main target of the miracle, but rather to lead to a more important care, which is opening and strengthening their faith. Through this miracle, Jesus has shown his cura personalisto each blind man.
Our life, as human beings, is woven of both joy and sufferings, consolation and desolation. However, joy and consolation in some cases may hinder God’s plan! By warning the two blind men not to tell anybody about him, Jesus has invited them to collaborate on His apostolic plan. But overwhelmed by the joy of the sight recovered, they did not keep Jesus’ instruction: they spread the news about Jesus all over that region. Unintentionally,their joy and consolation became a stumbling block for Jesus’ mission.
Father General’scare for Vietnam Province
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Father General’s visit has brought the real “cura” to members of Vietnam Province. According to our Jesuit spirit, Father General is the first to perform the ‘cura personalis and apostolica’ on the whole Society.
So dear Father General,
Your presence, talks and sharing during these days in the Province have brought us great consolation and encouraged us tremendously to grow further in our Jesuit life and apostolate. Your abundant instructions in these days have made us more aware of the universal dimension of the Society and of the quality for our Jesuit life and apostolate. The joy of the increasing number of vocations and apostolic services in our Province would not be significant and meaningful if Jesus does not touch our life, nor enter the house of our heart and walk along with us in our apostolic journey. Your visit has really showed God’s care for our Province.
We thank God for this gift and we thank you for having brought us your “cura personalis and cura apostolica”. We will keep implementing the spirit of the General Congregation 36, as well as your guidance, in order to improve our Jesuit life and apostolate in term of quality, and for a better serve God and His people on the personal, community and Province level.
Dear Father Daniel Huang, Father Victor Asouad and Father Pierre Bélanger*
I would like also to thank you for having accompanied and assisted Father General fulfill his task of visiting our Province. Your presence and labor among us in these days have been so precious and edifying to our Jesuits. I am deeply convinced that through you, God has also poured extra cares to our Province.
Being aware that we are sinful Jesuits is a good way to live up to Advent spirit. We humbly ask God to shed his mercy on us, help us open our heart further to Him and His people, healing our eyes so that we could see more clearly the urgent needs of people that we seek to serve.
Vincent Pham Van Mam, SJ
* Fr. Pierre Bélanger, SJ was appointed by Father General to the new communications team in Rome at the General Curia.