|Greetings from the chief priest
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Father Yasuo Watanabe. I want to thank Archbishop Okada for the opportunity to come here. I was ordained by Archbishop Okada and so I consider myself one of the Okada children. I have been appointed the chief priest of the main church of the Shitamachi missionary district and I look forward to carrying out the priority tasks of this Tokyo Parish. I am currently serving the following positions: the bishop secretary in charge of the Catholic Buddhist human rights commission of the Japan Catholic Buddhist committee; secretary of the Japanese Catholic Community Ethnic Committee; and on the steering committee of the Tokyo Diocese Volunteer Center. Since I am completely new and not connected to the former pastors, I would like to thank you for your patience and kindness for the next three years.
Let me share with you about a valuable experience I had concerning the care of my Mother on Saturday, March 4th, in the afternoon. About one hour before my mother passed away I came from Nagareyama City to the nursing home where my mother was staying in Suginami Ward. The freeway was very congested. When I arrived, the nurse was calling for a meeting. At that time I was finally prepared to face the event of my mother’s death. My mother opened her mouth wide and closed her eyes. She was breathing heavily. I was urged by the nurse to say “Please tell you mother her son is here”. But my voice was choked by my tears. I could not say “Yasuo is here”. Finally what I could say was “Father Watanabe is here.” I said it with all my strength. My mother opened her eyes, stared at me, smiled and then closed her eyes and kept breathing hard. At first I could not catch what she was saying, but after holding her hand and administrating the rite of anointing of the sick I could hear her repeating, “I do not understand, I do not understand.” She said it many times in a mumble. I do not know what exactly she was referring to, whether it was I do not know heaven or I do not know way of passing on the afterlife. However, after calling out my late father’s name and an aunt of hers, I got close, tears welling in my eyes, and heard her say, “Please tell me everything.” She continued to breath hard and mumble. Finally, she squeezed her eyes shut twice before she passed away. I thought that at the end it was like the passion and crucifixion and I told her to try hard her breathing gradually lessened and grew shallow and then I thought she left for God and her face seemed to fall asleep.
Perhaps when we die, we can hear a nearby voice even if we are unconscious. We believe the event so the “resurrection” from the Bible and live with great hope of it’s coming. But I do not really understand that. While I am alive, I encounter the resurrected Christ, I encounter Him through meeting other people and I want to deepen my encounter with our Lord truly through everyday events.
So, I believe there are two kinds of thinking in missionary theory, the “Sowing Theory” and the “Reaper Harvest”. Traditionally, the Church encourages the “Sowing”. But the Gospel of John has the Reaper Harvest model. In other words, the accomplishment of God’s salvation was carried out by the Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The great work, that is, the relief work of mankind, spreads just as the universe did in the Big Bang and this work is still expanding and working on earth to this day. This work is for both good and bad people. Whether they are a believer or not. For we the disciples of Christ, the experiences we have with this work become a testimony to the Lord.
For me, In my daily life, I would like to feel the inconceivable event, the unfathomable encounter and the impossible thing as a job for the Lord Jesus Christ. So please, as long as you do not go against the Gospel, do whatever you want to do. Because if you ask of the Lord, you will reap great fruit. But if become fond of being fruitful for its own sake and not for the sake of the Lord, you will have to lose that fruit and die on a cross of your own making.