Father Boyle opened his talk with a story about Mario.
Of all the people with tattoos in the Home Boy Industries,
Mario had the most, on arms legs, back, torso, only a small space was left open on his face
Ask anyone, though, who the kindest, most gentle, most loving person in place was
And all answers would be an easy, “Mario.”
Father Greg took Mario for his first plane ride
Father G told the young man he would be
on his own to speak in some of the classes
His mother had beaten him every day of his young life
With belts and hangers and all manner of objects
He wore three tee shirts to school each day to cover the blood her beatings left
His mother took him to an orphanage near
and left him at the door. Baja California
It took his grandmother 3 months to find him there and rescue him,
She raised him after that.
In one of the classrooms, a member of the audience said
“You now have children of your own, what advice do you give to them?”
Struck dumb by the question he could not response for a time, then he said with some force,
“ I will tell them just not to be like me.”
The audience went silent. The woman who asked the question
then said, pointing her finger at him
“Why shouldn’t they be like you, you are warm, and loving kind and generous, why shouldn’t they be just like you?”
At that point the whole room rose as one and clapped and clapped and would not stop clapping as Mario just buried his face in his hands.
Father Boyle said the audience had moved at that moment from empathy to awe, and Mario was no longer the object of pity , but the subject of reverent admiration for the weight of what he had carried and survived.
Tears streaming down, Father G said, “This is all God asks of us, to reach a state of awe in the wonder of the sacred souls of the other. Quoting from the Book of Jeremiah, he concludes,
“In this place of which you say, “It is a waste…there shall be heard again the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness… the voices of those who sing…”
(33:11) Your lives are not a waste.