- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2006

The following is a translation of a sermon preached in Vietnamese by the Rev. John Baptist Doan Binh Minh, vicar of Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Parish in Arlington.

In the Gospel of Mark, we read, “Rising very early before dawn, Jesus left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said: ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ He told them, ‘Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.’ So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.”

In this passage, Christ highlights the center of His mission, that is, to install the kingdom of God into the life of each individual person. Jesus then performs miracles of healing and driving out demons. Let us not only be amazed by His power of working miracles alone; let’s be receptive to accepting the power of His Word to embrace the Kingdom of God, the fulfillment of God’s redemptive promise in our daily life.

Let God empower us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially the gift of understanding, so that we may know the mystery of Christ and the meaning of our life. Perhaps most of us are living a hectic existence, trying to catch up with our human agenda in the political, social, economic and personal world. And at a sudden moment, we might have lost the true meaning of being a whole person respecting the gifts of life from the point of view of God’s plan.

There is the common loss of an inner man with a genuinely loving growth in relation with God and others. We have heard, we have seen, we have lived in a culture of selfish satisfaction and indulgence that quite often disrespects the genuine gift of the dignity of a human person. We may, like Job, question and hope to find the meaning of life by saying, “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of hirelings?”

As Simon went out to look for Jesus, let us have courage and faith to find Jesus. He is the meaning of our life. So that with Jesus, we still go on in our life with the light of God’s Word shining in our hearts, and go out to proclaim Him unto the hearts of others, as well.

Let’s not be troubled by the things around us, but rather let God’s Word be the fragrance of our life. One Vietnamese riddle says that, in a muddy pond, nothing can be beautiful like a lotus, because the stinky smell of mud cannot stop the fragrance of lotus in the air. Christ has come unto the world to light up the new life in grace and truth for those who have believed in and found Him. Only in Christ we can live fragrantly like a lotus in the muddy pond.

The fulfillment of a man’s love is not only to look for the right woman of his life but ultimately and intimately to be with her always in marriage. Similarly, the same is true with the love God has for us that has been revealed in Christ. The purpose of His coming into the world was not only to proclaim the Kingdom of God, but to bring it into each of our lives so that we may be with Him as He is always with the Father.

In the Gospel, Jesus went to a quiet place to pray, to be alone with the Father. This contemplative aspect of being with God in prayer enables us to regain the strength and the energy to do the will of God.

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