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Marist Bulletin - Number 43


The gift of love of one another

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Bro. Seán Sammon’s Address at the end of the Midnight Christmas Mass, in the General House, Rome

Dear Brothers and friends,
Jesuit John Powell tells the story of a young student of his who was dying of cancer. This young man came to the priest one day and said, “Father, you said something in class several weeks ago that has made it easier for me to face death this early age.”
Powell, somewhat taken aback, asked the young man what it was that he had said. The student replied, “One day you said that there are two great tragedies in life, and dying young is not one of them.
“You said the first great tragedy was never to have loved anyone. The second was similar: never to have told those we love, that we love them.
“Your comments: the student said, “caused me to realize just how blessed my life has been. I’ve loved others and felt their love in return. In the months since, I have also been able to talk with them about the love that we have shared.”
“So, when people ask me what it is like to be twenty-four and dying. I tell them that I’d rather live but that dying is not as bad as they might think. And that surely, it beats being fifty and having no values or never having loved anyone.”
Powell’s comments in class changed the life and the death of that young man. Christmas reminds us that we have the power, limited as we are, to change the lives of others and even the course of history. Mary did both in saying “yes” to God’s invitation to be the mother of Christ. And, it never ceases to stun me that that simple Jewish woman preparing for a marriage said “yes,” though she could just as easily have said “no.”
Christmas, and the time of New Year also have a way of transforming families, relationships, people, and even the way in which countries, with their national interests, co-exist with one another. Somehow, the season help us to put first things first, just as the young man in Powell’s story put first things first, loving others and letting them know that he love them.
A word of thanks to each of you this Christmas, not only for all that you do—as much as that is appreciated, but also for whom you are in this community of faith. Marcellin in his last will and testament wrote to our early Brothers, “I beg of you, dear brothers, with all the affection of my soul, and by all the love you have for me, do all you can to ensure that charity is always maintained among you. Love one another as Jesus Christ has loved you. Be of one heart and one mind. May it be said of the Little Brothers of Mary as of the first Christians, ‘See how they love one another.’”
Let the gift of love of one another, that central message of Jesus’ Good News, be the gift that we give to each other and to our world this Christmas.

Seán D. Sammon, FMS

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