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Marist Bulletin - Number 45

 

A speech made by Seán Sammon, Superior General
04.01.2003

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THE NEW DAWN OF 2003

Brother Sean, while taking part in the First Provincial Chapter of the new North Andean Province (Colombia, Ecuador y Venezuela) spoke a few words of greeting to those present, with regard to the new year.

One day a wise old rabbi asked his students, “How can you tell that night has ended and the day is returning?”
“When you can see clearly that an animal in the distance is a lion and not a leopard,” suggested one. “No,” answered the rabbi.
“Could it be,” asked another, “when you can tell that a tree across the field bears figs and not peaches?” Once again, the rabbi replied, “No.”
Growing impatient, his pupils demanded, “Well, then, what is it?”
“It is when you can look on the face of any person and see that that woman or man is your sister or brother. Because until you are able to do so, no matter what time of day it is, it is still night.”

The moral of our story is crystal clear: until I come to see every other person as my brother or sister, I continue to live in darkness.
Jesus is equally clear in the gospel story found in cycle A of our Church’s readings for today. And, it should come as no surprise to you or to me that our Church takes an opportunity on this last day of the calendar year to remind us that we will be judged on manner we have treated persons who are poor. There is no wiggle room here. Jesus is crystal clear in Matthew 25.
And, just whom did Jesus include among persons who are poor? Once again, he doesn’t mince words: those who are hungry, without clothing, in prison.
Therapists and counselors tell us that clients often share what’s most important to them as they are going out the door at the end of a session. So, we need to pay careful attention to not only the message of Matthew 25, but also to the fact that it is the last word the Church puts before us as this old year ends, and a new one begins to unfold with all its promise.

I find that as I grow older, God’s Word becomes more troubling. With the passage of time it is more difficult to rationalize the message of the gospel, to explain it away. So, I am faced with these questions: Will I allow God’s Word to change my hard heart? Am I willing to embrace that revolution of the heart to which our 20th General Chapter called you and me?
So, as one year ends and another gets underway, let us give thanks for the wonder of God’s love, so evident during the last 12 months, and let us pledge ourselves to continue to take Matthew 25 seriously. And in so doing, we will discover—like the rabbi’s students—that it is no longer night for us.
Thank you and a blessed New Year.

Seán D. Sammon, FMS

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