Commentary on the Gospel of

Tom Shanahan, S.J.- Creighton University's Athletic Department

The scene was a wedding-rehearsal dinner preceding a niece's nuptials. Always a gala event, the dinner had a special influence on me. I was the priest-witness of the next day's celebration, thus especially open to discover events, people, circumstances, and facts that influenced the couples' (and my) life.

A cousin of the bride had given birth mere weeks before the wedding. Sammy, the weeks old boy, was proudly held by his mother. He was joining a family that included two boy-siblings.

Sammy, of course, was an instant hit with the whole entourage that evening. I've heard the spiriual writer, Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI, make claims that when an infant arrives somewhere, the child becomes the center of attention; the esteemed spiritual writer says that no matter who else is in the room, a pro football player, and actor, a revered uncle, in a word, anyone accustomed to the spotlight, takes second-seat to the baby!

That was clearly played out for me that evening of conviviality. We all went gaga for the beautiful example of humanity (Sammy), whom we met that evening.

I had a chance later in the evening to visit him being held lovingly in the arms of his mother. He was calm and secure in his mother's love, and it got me thinking.

Sammy was simply being loved by his family most expecially, but also by the crowd of smiling faces that evening. Wondering what might be going on in the mind of this miraculously formed human being in front of me, I was struck by the passive chaacter those moments were for him. The real question is not "what is he thinking," but rather what he was receiving in those moments of joy surrounding him.

Sammy's presence that night pointedly clarified for me the segment of love that many times is forgotten. The clear focus of the soon-to-be-married couple was on love, shown by the scripture readings they chose for the next day's celebration, so LOVE WAS ON MY MIND! What is love, anyway?

The part (of love) that many of us tend to ignore is to first receive/accept love before we do love by offering it to others or other situations. THAT was Sammy's teaching for me!

Sammy (a great name by the way!) was purely and simply being loved by family and new friends. As a gifted retreat director once pointed out to me: "to love God is to LET GOD love you."

There's the truth that Sammy's being was shouting out to all "Hey! Don't forget that the main component of love is that God is initiating love in your heart/mind/body. Get that; receive that love; and then you will be a graced lover of God. Remember: Be bold both in what you receive and how you share that with others.

Pretty big thoughts coming from someone who is living the "to love God is to let God love you!" reality right there in front of us. We need to listen to Sammy.

Thank you, tiny child, and may you keep discovering love!


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