By: Huy Nguyen
“The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ” (Gaudium et Spes, no.1).
One of the great privileges while doing my pastoral placement is to have many opportunities of sitting together and listening to different faith stories of parishioners, who are not only courageous but also vulnerable to share their inmost joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties with profound trust and deep faith in God.
Without a shadow of a doubt, by lending an attentive ear to people’s faith-filled stories, I come to realise that God is continuing his Incarnation in the everyday lives of His people. Each person I encounter over the past few months reflects a different way of how God becomes incarnational in their thoughts, words, and actions. Among many cor ad cor (heart to heart) conversations, one story which leaves an unforgettable impression on me is the faith journey of a mother (Joan) who, thanks to her tremendous faith in God, has raised her autistic son (Jake) over the past 25 years.
Joan shared with me that she got married when she was 21 years old. Unfortunately, not so long after Jake was born with severe autism, her husband left her and baby Jake to seek a better life with a new partner. Being a young mother of an autistic boy with no helping hand around would have been a miserable tragedy. However, instead of resigning to the fatal situation and blaming her runaway husband, Joan powerfully clung to her strong faith to write a new chapter of her life. With her unbelievable trust in God, she confided to me that Jesus is her ‘new husband’. I trembled at how awesome her faith is. Over the past 25 years, for every single day, she never ceases to turn to Jesus and ask for His companionship and guidance. Yes, her solid belief in Jesus bears abundant fruits in her life. As time goes by, she is more and more equipped with professional skills to look after her autistic son. Jake is now 25 years old and lives a dignified life with the help of NDIS. He is very much supported by NDIS staff to immerse themselves in community life, such as shopping, catching trains to the city and physio exercise. More importantly, Joan takes him every Sunday to Mass and she hopes that Jake one day will become an altar server. Let’s hope that her heart’s desire will be fulfilled.
Joan’s faith story reminds me of what Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you say to this mountain: Move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing is impossible for you” (Matt 17:20). Faith is not a moral code or theory, rather it is a love story between us and God. Perhaps, Joan’s marriage story is not as beautiful as we expect, but her love story with Jesus is worth pondering. With faith in God, nothing is impossible and Joan’s journey of life has eloquently borne witness to that. What about you? Do you let God’s love enter your life and transform it as He did for Joan? Let us each answer in our daily choices and actions.