The Mark of a Friend
by Fr. Jack McArdle with Aneel Aranha
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Two young men of Irish origins were together in Vietnam. One was called Manning, and the other was called Brennan, and both names are about as Irish as you could find! They were part of a platoon making their way through the jungle, when, suddenly, Manning was sent flying into the bushes, as Brennan threw himself on the ground. There was a terrific explosion, as a landmine blew Brennan to bits, and Manning escaped without a mark. Manning was deeply shocked, of course, but he was also profoundly overcome that his friend had sacrificed his own life for him. His right foot was just about to come down on the mine when Brennan spotted it, and dived. His intention was to get Manning out of the way, but it was impossible to do that without throwing himself in the line of fire.
When Manning returned to the U.S., he joined a branch of the Franciscans, called the Canons Regular. He took 'Brennan' as his religious name, and for many years, books and tapes from Fr. Brennan Manning T.O.R. were to be found on the shelves of all religious bookstores. Some years after his ordination he was visiting the mother of his friend Brennan, who was now quite old. She was a quiet little woman, and constant prayer was her daily sustenance. By way of saying something, during a lull in their conversation, Manning turned to her and asked "Do you think that he really loved me?" The quiet little woman sprang into life, was on her feet, and was pointing a finger into his face, as she spoke with a clear firm voice: "Don't ever ask me that question again. Of course he loved you. Didn't he die for you? What further proof could you possibly need?"
There is no greater way of showing our love for a friend than laying our life down for him/her. We might not have the courage or the desire to lay our lives down for anybody, but it might be enough for many of us to stop killing each other - through slander, gossip and lies.
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