Gospel Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Easter
A Small Deed with a Big Impact
Christ-like love can take many forms. One of them is simply going out of one’s way to show an interest in someone else.
This is what Jesus did with his incarnation. He left the bliss of heaven and came to this sinful world just to extend us the hand of salvation.
About fifteen years ago, one of Jesus’ followers, a normal, everyday Christian, a middle-aged Irishman named Liam, decided to do the same thing, and ended up changing the shape of eternity.
It was summer in Dublin, Ireland, and on his way to work Liam saw a young man admiring one of Dublin’s beautiful Gothic churches. The young man was Darren, an American graduate student on a European tour. Liam interrupted his own business and offered to show the obviously enthralled Darren around the church. Darren accepted. An hour later, after attending a novena to St. Rita with the local nuns and having a cup of tea with the parish priest, the two emerged, fast friends. They exchanged addresses and promised to keep in touch. Before they parted, Liam had a sudden inspiration. He debated about whether he should say anything, but finally he took his courage in his hands and, leaning over, he whispered a question to Darren: “Have you ever thought of becoming a priest?” Darren said he hadn’t, and the conversation ended abruptly. Their correspondence gradually trickled off as time went on. Liam hadn’t heard from Darren in nearly a year when he received a surprising letter from him… in a seminary! “I’m studying to be a priest, Liam!” Darren wrote. “You have no idea how grateful I am to you for putting that idea into my head with your question! You were an instrument of the Holy Spirit.” The years of training passed, and in 2004, ordination day arrived. The church in Fargo, Minnesota was full to capacity. And there in the front pew, smiling broadly was Liam. A few weeks after his ordination, Darren was diagnosed with leukemia. The doctors tried everything, but there was no cure. Fr. Darren had only a few months left to live. He accepted his suffering with spiritual joy, and so did Liam.
Fr. Darren died in September, 2005. He was thirty-four years old. He died young, but thanks to Liam’s going just a little bit out of his way to show an interest in Darren on that afternoon in Dublin, he died having discovered and fulfilled his vocation.
(From ePriest – May 2022)