He asked me what I expected of him. Without realising
what I was saying, I told him: "Check my translation of Luke and evaluate
my interpretations." This he did systematically. When the day came, I
appeared before a beautifully concentric jury: on either end were the two
Jesuits, Beauchamp on the left and Vanhoye on the right; then, next to
Beauchamp was my first director, Georges Mounin, and next to Vanhoye my second
director, Jean Molino; and finally, in the centre, was Madame Garde-Tamine.
During the festivities after the defence, the Superior of the residence,
Jean-Paul Mensior, asked his fellow scholar Albert Vanhoye: "How much time
did you spend reading this thesis? A week?” Vanhoye replied: "Oh no, much
more!” That's telling! When he said, "It’s a service to be rendered,” they
were not just empty words. They meant something. And he was the Rector!
When in 2006 we founded the "International
Society for the Study of Biblical and Semitic Rhetoric", he accepted the
position of Honorary President. He had become a Cardinal by then. It was another
"service to be rendered"!
time came for him to retire to the infirmary, where he celebrated his 90th
birthday. I used to visit him every Tuesday on one of my weekly outings. Finally,
a difficult time came when he had nothing more to do, so I ventured to suggest
that he correct what I was writing. He did so in his characteristic manner as a
“scrutinizer” (his own term), and he did so with great generosity and competence.
Until one day, when he told me that he could no longer continue. He had arrived
at a different kind of "service to be rendered".