Thank you, Mr Mandela!

Greetings!  I was going to post something earlier on the passing of the late great Nelson Mandela, but I figured I would wait and let the world chime in first and then, and only then, allow my own words to trickle forth after I had a chance to ponder the lasting legacy of someone who taught us the real meaning of making a difference.  Now, we live in a world in which countless men and women have made a difference.  From Jesus to Constantine, to Augustine to Aquinas, to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Doris Day, to Dr. Martin Luther King to John F. Kennedy and now to Pope Francis, we can easily and readily find icons of greatness who have made their mark on history.  This past Thursday, the world learned that another person who will be remembered for his persistence in the search of freedom, justice and equality had left this world to meet His Creator.  Nelson Mandela entered a prison a bitter, angry and resentful young man and emerged as a missionary for peace and justice.  It is fascinating that his jailers were front row guests at his presidential inauguration.  If you attended a Mass I celebrated this weekend here at St Mary’s, you would have heard me quote former President Bill Clinton who, at the time was having his own struggles, asked Mr Mandela how he was able to be so full of hope after years of being imprisoned, many of the years, forced to endure hard labor.  Mr Mandela surprised Clinton when he said, “There is true freedom in forgiveness.”  Ultimately, for the Christian, it is the message of John the Baptist and the message and example of Jesus Christ.  When we forgive from the heart and can put aside the heaviness whatever tormented us in the past, we are set free.  Mr Mandela, this little voice in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, joins billions around the Globe and simply says, thank you!  Thank you for reminding us what truly matters.  Namely, that in order to be free, truly free, we must forgive.  God speed, Madiba.  May you now rest in peace!

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