For one thing, he was not good at mathematics…
Vietnamese cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan’s extraordinary life deserves to be better known, particularly his great love for the Holy Eucharist. Imprisoned by the communist regime for thirteen years (9 of which were spent in solitary confinement), the priest ministered to others throughout his ordeal. As Deacon Greg Kandra has written, Thaun was allowed, “…one luxury: to write letters to friends outside prison. When he did, he often asked them to send him what he called “his medicine.”
They knew what he meant. They sent him cough medicine bottles filled with wine and small bits of bread. Sympathetic guards smuggled him some wood and wire, and from that he made a small cross, which he hid in a bar of soap.
He kept all this in a cardboard box. That box became his own private altar. Every day, at 3:00 p.m., the hour of Christ’s death, he would place drops of wine in the palm of his hand, mingled with water, to celebrate Mass.
The greatest ongoing miracle in history was able to take place. That cramped prison cell became as beautiful and as blessed as any cathedral, a sanctuary for the glory of God.
He did this for thirteen years.
In an address in 2,000 Van Thuan declared that he had “…met the living Jesus; he fascinated me. I followed him – because I love the defects of Jesus.” His address may be found in one of his books, Testimony of Hope.
First Defect: Jesus Does Not Have a Good Memory
During his agony on the cross, Jesus heard the voice of the thief at his right side: “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 43:42) If it had been me, I would have answered him: “I won’t forget you but you must pay for your crimes by spending some 20 years in purgatory.”
On the contrary, Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus forgot all about his sins…
Not only does he forgive, he forgives everything.
Second Defect: Jesus Is Not Good at Mathematics
If Jesus took a math examination he would surely fail. A shepherd had 100 sheep; one of them strayed. Without thinking, the shepherd went in search of it, leaving the other 99 sheep. When he found the lost sheep he put it on his shoulders (Luke 15: 4-5) For Jesus, 1 equals 99, perhaps even more…
Third Defect: Jesus Did Not Excel in Logic
One night a woman who had 10 drachmas lost one of them so she lit a lamp to search for it. When she found it, she invited her neighbors in and told them, “Rejoice with me because I found the drachma which I had lost.” (Luke 15:9) But the celebration with her friends probably cost her more than the one drachma. It is not logical to us! And yet: “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Fourth Defect: Jesus Takes Too Many Risks
A person in charge of publicity for a company or a politician seeking election prepares a very precise program with many promises. Jesus promises only trials and persecutions to those who follow him. He warns them that “The Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20)
He sends the apostles out in poverty, and with no plan at all. As though they should just rely on Providence, or something.
Fifth Defect: Jesus Is a Terrible Financial Manager
If Jesus were manager of an enterprise his business would fare poorly because he would pay the same salary to the one who started working in the morning and to the one who began in the afternoon. And he would do it on purpose. “Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you… do you begrudge my generosity? (Matthew 20: 15 – 15)
What is the source of the flaws of Jesus? Love. Because he is the God of Mercy and Incarnate Love. God’s love (cf. 1 Jn 4:16). This is not a rational, calculating and conditional love; it is a love that gifts, and serves, understands and forgives, to an infinite extent. To what extent? Infinite.
The defects of Jesus, taught Cardinal Thaun, are the path of happiness.