A seven-year-old girl tried to carry her younger brother. She carried him on her hip. She did the cradle hold, the face-to-face hold and then the belly hold. But all of those were too difficult for her. Finally, she decided to carry him over her shoulder. People looked at her with pity and said, “what a burden you carry on your shoulder!” She replied, “it is not a burden, it is my brother!”
Being powerful in God’s way
In our Lenten journey, we are not carrying a burden, but we are carrying our mortal condition. By following Jesus, we want to assume to the end our human condition in order to be strengthened by the One who died and rose from death for our salvation. With the suffering Jesus, we come to understand that being powerful does not mean being without weaknesses. Through his way of being, of living and of dying, Jesus shows us that being powerful means being courageous enough to overcome every difficulty in our daily lives. The more difficult our situations, the more courageous we become. It is on the cross that Jesus demonstrates the power of God’s love for humanity. The divine love is shown most powerfully when God, in his Only Begotten Son, does not turn away from human suffering but endures it to the end.
Deepening our spiritual life in time of distress: I completed this book when everything was shut down because of COVID-19 pandemic. I gathered the homilies that I gave at Assumption University, translated some meditations that I wrote in French for Living with Christ and reworked a few writings published by the same magazine in Vietnamese. While being busy with teaching (online classes), preaching (we had two Masses every day because we could not gather more than ten people in our chapel) and cooking (in rotation for eight members of our religious community), I enjoyed doing this writing. Even though it was not a good time for writing, this exercise helped me to nourish my spiritual life during the time of pandemic. For me, writing became a place where I talked to myself, opened myself up to the mystery of human life and thought about the meaning of human existence.
The Paschal structure of human existence: Faced with the suffering and the littleness of my own life, I let myself be brought to what is most fundamental in the Christian faith. More than ever, I am aware of the Paschal structure of our Christian life. The mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus enters my life in concrete ways whenever I am teaching, preaching—or cooking. This mystery is intimately linked to the Trinitarian structure of our faith. Out of love for humanity, the Father, in the love of the Holy Spirit, sent his Son to become one of us and to save humanity from within. This Trinitarian love is the source not only of our salvation, but also of every human activity, including meditation. That is why, in each meditation in this book, by paying attention to the connection between different elements of biblical stories, I will use three words or three expressions to remind us of this fundamental element of our faith. Let Trinitarian faith be our companion during the Lenten journey.
We will journey together until the Monday within the Octave of Easter. It is a reminder for us that our joy does not end with the Easter celebration. This joy of the Resurrection is the starting point of our Christian existence. This joy gives meaning to all of the activities of our daily lives. Let this joy be always with us in “our own Galilee!”
Linh mục Giuse Nguyễn Chí Ái, A.A. là tiến sĩ về nghiên cứu Kinh Thánh tại Đại Học Laval ở Québec, Canada. Cha là tác giả của nhiều bài báo viết về câu chuyện của ông Giuse trong sách Sáng Thế và cũng là tác giả của nhiều bài suy niệm trong tuyển tập Sống Lời Chúa (bản Tiếng Pháp và bản Tiếng Việt). Năm 2022, cha đã xuất bản một cuốn sách về hành trình Mùa Chay (A Delightful Lenten Journey, Bayard).