The renowned French artist Paul Gustave Dore once lost his passport while travelling in Europe. When he came to a border crossing, he explained his predicament to one of the guards. Giving his name to the official, Dore hoped he would be recognized and allowed to pass. The guard, however, said that many people attempted to cross the border by claiming to be persons they were not. Dore insisted that he was the man he claimed to be. "All right," said the official, "we'll give you a test, and if you pass it we'll allow you to go through." Handing him a pencil and a sheet of paper, he told the artist to sketch several peasants standing nearby. Dore did it so quickly and skillfully that the guard was convinced he was indeed who he claimed to be. His action confirmed his identity.
Many of you here are ‘Thieu Nhi Thanh The’, aren’t you? What make you different from those who are not Thieu Nhi Thanh The? Is it because you have different uniform, different sash? Or because of you as the member of the Eucharistic Youth Society have access to the love of God in the Eucharist and in the Living Word of God in the Bible? Yes, to be ‘Thieu Nhi Thanh The’ definitely the wonderful means to help you to be good Christian. However, I would like to be more specific as we all today hear what Jesus commands us to do in the Gospel of Saint John.
Let me ask you this, are we all here Christians, aren’t we? Yes, so what makes us different from others, let say people don’t have any religions! We are different because we believe in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God the Father. Yes, but what action confirms our identity, to show that we belong to Jesus Christ? Yes, it is the act of love! Love is an act… love is not an abstract idea; it is an act of the will to reach out to others; to care for others, to understand, to respect others and to sacrifice for the good of others. Love is not lust.
When you love you care, you sacrifice; when you lust, you seek to satisfy your own deadly passions and desires. If someone comes to you and say “I love you”, you should be able to check if they really care about your well-beings? If they truly respect your cultures, backgrounds and accept you as you are; if they are really responsible for their actions, they response to your needs; and if they are willing to learn about you, to know you, and understand you?
A few years ago, when I was assigned to do practicum at Dallas children hospital in the deacon formation program, a chaplain shared with me a moving story which he happened to know. There was a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. The only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.
The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. The doctor saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes I’ll do it if it will save her.” As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I die right away, or how soon?” The boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he would have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her!
Wow, that is love; that is pure love, true love, my dear young brothers and sisters!
I though and hope that you would do the same for your brothers and sisters, for your friends living around you, wouldn’t you? Jesus in the Gospel today tells us that we are going to love others as Jesus loves us; as Jesus, the Son of God has become one of us, has died for our sins, has risen from the death to save us and brought us back to God the Father. Maybe you don’t have to do such a heroic act like the brother of Liz did in this story, but you would at least come out and say hi to your friends, the ones you never pay attention or don’t feel good about them, wouldn’t you? You would practice loving your parents, brothers and sisters, your friends and your outer circles of friends because only doing so, you would belong to Jesus and are his disciples.
What would you do if you feel like you can’t do it! Pray, Pray and Pray. Jesus has promised to give us the Holy Spirit to help us to live out what Jesus told us to do and he will do it if we ask for his help. In two more weeks, the whole Church will celebrate Jesus’ ascension and Pentecost, my dear young brothers and sister, let be sincere in your prayers and open your hearts and mind to accept Jesus in your life and he will empower you to love one another and become his true disciples. Amen.
Deacon Vincent Thu Huu Dam