Father Damien- Radical Love

Radical Love

By Bro. Brandon Paluch

In a dream one night, I was in a plane over an island that seemed to be composed entirely of light. That dream became reality when I found myself on the way to Kalaupapa where St. Damien gave his life for leprosy patients on the Hawaiian island of Moloka’i. As we drew near, the sun shone in such a way that the island seemed transfigured—“white as light.” In the past, thousands of people had landed there in so-called “shipments.” Robert Louis Stevenson said, “They were strangers to each other, collected by common calamity, disfigured, mortally sick, banished without sin from home and friends. In the chronicle of man there is perhaps no more melancholy a landing than this.”

Damien chose this landing! He volunteered! If done for any reason other than JesusRadical Love Incarnatethis seems like an act of lunacy. At our pilgrim’s Mass, the priest contrasted the “self-made person” with the rare one who offers herself like a lump of clay to be molded by the Heavenly Potter. Damien beautifully exemplified the latter saying the memory of “the day of my vows, that has enabled me to...die more and more to myself.” Into a grim situation, Jesus appeared because of the commitment, love and compassion of a Belgian priest.

Today Jesus longs to appear in our world through you and me. Each of us is a word that God will speak only once, a servant with a unique calling. I am thankful for my Marianist call and later this year will make a lifelong commitment and begin preparations to serve as a priest. Some days the vision of the “self-made person” is very appealing to me. Some nights I ponder my vocation and wonder, “What am I doing with my life? Have I gone crazy?” Then I remember God’s logic lived out at Kalaupapa. May each of us have the courage to live our unique vocation wholeheartedly, with holy abandon like St. Damien, like our Risen Lord whose joy renews the whole world. 

- Bro. Brandon Paluch, S.M.

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