Saturday, January 17, 2009

No greater love

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."
(NRSV: Jn 15:13)

I've heard, read, prayed over, and felt comforted by this verse from the Gospel of John for many decades now. Before joining the United States Army in my sixth decade as I did, I hadn't realized how much more meaning this passage from Scripture could take on for me.

A few years back now, I had a pretty scary experience in which I realized I could very well wind up dead, but as there were youngsters around me who were at very great risk -- and no other adult at the moment -- I knew there was no way I could abandon them to that risk in the effort to save myself.

I'd not realized I had that in me.

By the grace of God, everything (and everyone) turned out fine, if a bit shaken and chastened. Very shortly thereafter I found myself in the company of people who go to a lot of AA and Al-Anon meetings, talking about the experience. Amazing how that happens....

Anyway, since the process of being commissioned as an Officer began, I've been very aware of the dedication and selflessness of many Army personnel who have entered my life, and and more and more convinced that I am surrounded by Junior Enlisted, NCOs, and Officers who would quite literally lay down their lives for me.

This is certainly true of SFC McG, of whom I've been speaking a lot since arriving back in the States. "How's your guy?" or "How's your sidekick?" or "How's your hired gun?" are some of the ways people have asked about him. I usually reply with, "He's just great! *And* he's not even shot me in the foot yet!!"

(Those of you who have been following this blog will have read that he met my parents when they drove down to Summer Camp to bid me farewell on my journey Down Range. He promised them he'd bring me back safely, and then looked at me very severely and said: "Don't try anything stupid, Sir. If you do, I'll shoot you in the foot.")

As I've talked about SFC McG with my friends here, and of my absolute confidence in his abilities and care, I've been reminded of just how many others in my life these days who would literally lay down their lives for me.

That, then, reminds me of my Higher Power, who has already done just that.

I am, indeed, richly blessed....

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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