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"He Isn't Heavy . . ."

Passing by Boys' Town in Washington, D.C. one day brought back memories of my five-year teaching stint at the Ateneo Grade School in Quezon City, Philippines many years ago where I taught 5th and 6th grades.

The Ateneo Grade School is an exclusive boys school whose mission is to form future leaders who are steeped in Catholic values. Religion was the first subject of the day and all the subjects and textbooks especially English Literature were imbued with the values of love of neighbor and service to others. The Ateneo takes pride in describing its products as "men for others."

The only story that I remember in the textbook "These Are Our People" is the story about the founding of Boys' Town by Father Flanagan in Omaha, Nebraska. One day he saw a boy carrying upstairs another boy almost his own size apparently sleeping. Father Flanagan said to him: "He is too heavy for you." The boy replied: "No, he isn't. He is my brother."

I feel that simple story, more than its face value, has a lot to say. The cherished family value (no pun intended) it depicts so graphically cannot but tug at the human heart. A brother, however heavy in many ways, can never be a burden simply because he is a brother. A brother can do things for a brother even to the extent of sacrifice, simply because he is a brother. A brother can forgive a brother, simply because he is a brother.

We are all brothers and sisters, because we have the same Father, the Father of Jesus, Who became a Brother for us, to the extent of offering Himself, for love of us.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

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