Yamamoto Keisuke, Jesuit Social Center staff member
Social and Pastoral Bulletin issue: No. 168 / December 21st, 2012
Greetings to all. I have been working in the Social Center since August of this year. My name is Yamamoto Keisuke. I graduated from the philosophy department of Sophia University in 1998. I’m not a Christian but I had the opportunity of being introduced to this Jesuit institution and became a staff member. At present, I’m once again learning about Christianity (the Catholic Church and the Jesuits), the viewpoint and mission of the Jesuit social apostolate and, by observing the work of my colleagues and the Director of the Center, I am spending my work time trying to understand what is going on here.
In my efforts to know more about Catholics I have been reading the memoirs of Mother Teresa. I would like to quote some words that especially impressed me, despite their challenging content. “Real love hurts. In order to provide good service to others without offending them, it is a fact that I must joyfully serve them even if I deprive myself of what I am granting.” Japan, where we are actually living, can be considered a country where people try excessively not to hurt others’ feelings. People seem extremely afraid to open themselves to others. That is a precaution against being hurt. In other words, that can be called fear. And this holds true everywhere, whether one is a believer or not.
Nevertheless, as Mother Teresa states, true love, or serving others, means allowing oneself to be hurt. In consequence, loving or serving others might involve the risk of receiving insults from the persons we encounter. In spite of that, however, we should take the risk of disclosing ourselves. If love means serving and opening our hearts to others, it makes no difference whether we are believers or not. Of course, although it is not advisable to take rash risks, we certainly run some risk when we do good for others. I imagine that this requires a lot of courage. But on the other hand, in the first place, no human can either survive or obtain happiness in isolation from others. Taking this into account, it has become very difficult to continue living in Japan, a society where human relationships remain remarkably based on fear of others. I feel that only “faith” can move one to open up to other people. It is not a faith about this or that, but a faith in the One Truth. I believe that only the gift of faith can wake us up to true love and grant us the power to face and serve others.
Words like “confidence” and “conviction” are becoming meaningless nowadays. I pray from the bottom of my heart that, in the encounters achieved through little works by unknown persons, human relationships will be enriched. It is my belief that our great potential for human relationships will never disappear, whatever difficult situations we might encounter.