Good day my friends,
I am Fr. Joe. I have replaced Fr. Greg Chambers as the new College Rector. ‘Joe’ is an ‘extra’ name I received when I was baptized according to the Catholic tradition. In fact, Vietnamese people don’t call me ‘Joe’ but ‘Binh’. The reason I decided to be called ‘Joe’ in Australia is to make things simple and easy for everyone. Why is that?
‘Cause if you don’t pronounce my ‘real’ name correctly, I can become Mr. Rubbish ‘Bin’, or ‘Mr. Bean’ (whom I really like, but don’t want to be.)
With the middle name ‘Thanh’, ‘Thanh Binh’ together means ‘peace’ in Vietnamese. I was born during the Vietnam War in 1961. My parents wished for peace to our country. Also, they wished that when I grew up, I could become a peaceful person, to bring peace to others. I have always tried my best to live out my name.
I am writing this when the war in Ukraine is still happening. It reminds me of what happened more than 40 years ago. At the time, around two million Vietnamese escaped from our country by boat. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that half of them, 1 million boat people, were robbed or killed by pirates (yes, really) or died of hunger and thirst on the sea (including one of my brothers).
War and violence are unacceptable and inexcusable. It doesn’t matter which side wins; normal people lose. They suffer terribly. We share their suffering as Jesus Christ suffered with and for us.
He came to show us the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Because of human blindness, stubbornness, and hatred, Jesus had to accept his death on the cross to awake us. His resurrection gives us hope: Hope in divine and human love, kindness, and compassion.
I am also writing in Lent, the time to humbly reflect and accept our limitations. As Pope Francis prayed to Mary, our holy Mother: ‘Amid the misery of our sinfulness, amid our struggles and weaknesses, amid the mystery of iniquity that is evil and war, you remind us that God never abandons us, but continues to look upon us with love, ever ready to forgive us and raise us up to new life.’
Yes, people can be evil, selfish, stubborn and hateful, but they can also be holy, generous, and compassionate. It depends!
Depends on what? It depends on what values you have and put into practice. We are called to heal the wounds of those who suffer and to give hope to those who feel hopeless, thus bringing the joy of the Risen Christ (Salesian Family Beatitudes).
The most common greeting among Jewish people is ‘shalom’ (peace). After his resurrection, Jesus often greeted his disciples: ‘Peace be with you’.
Jesus comes so that we know how to live fully in peace with ‘Integrity, Respect, Belonging, Joy and Dynamism’.
By practising our values, we contribute to create peace in the world. Without peace, we can never live fully.
Shalom, peace be with you all.