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With all my love

- Fr. James Reuter, SJ () - April 22, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - When I came to the Philippines, I thought that I was a missionary. Bringing to them the beautiful values of God.

But I discovered, when I got here, that the beautiful gifts of God had arrived, in the hearts of the people, long before I did.

It was a strange fulfillment of the truth in the Gospel; “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you.”

The desire to become a missionary came to me when I was seven years old, in Grade Two, at Saint Mary’s Catholic School, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA.

It never left me. I went to a Jesuit High School — Saint Peter’s Prep in Jersey City. I was fascinated by the gentleness, the wisdom, and the genuine desire of the teachers to show us how to live according to the law of God.

So I became a Jesuit, and a missionary, and I came to the Philippines.

I thought I was coming to give. But I was not. The Filipinos gave to me. From them I learned how natural it was for them to love God, by loving each other.

These are not just words. It is an amazing reality. During the Japanese Occupation, one of my students, Ramon Cabrera, went into the underground. He was picked up by the Japanese. They asked him to give the names of all his friends who were in the underground.

He said: “I don’t know any names.”

To make him talk, they beat him in the mouth with a gun butt. They broke out all his teeth. They smashed his jaw and his nose. Then they asked again for the names of his friends in the underground.

He said: “I don’t know any names.”

So they brought him to the cemetery, gave him a shovel, and told him to dig his grave.

He said: “Dig it yourself!”

So they bayoneted him. As he dropped to his knees, he looked up at the Japanese and smiled. And then he died.

“Greater love than this no man hath, that he lay down his life for his friend” . . .

Whatever you do for the least of these my little ones — you have done it to ME”.

He would not give the names of his friends in the underground.

At the age of 93, in the hospital with pneumonia, I am saying this to tell you — all of you, my friends . . .

The Filipino has deep, strong courage . . .

He has courage enough to die for his friends . . .

He loves God with all his heart, because —

“Greater love for God no man has — that he lay down his life for his friend . . . Whatever you do for the least of these, my little ones, you have done it to Me”.

What I discovered when I came to the Philippines was that the Filipinos do not need missionaries.

I did.

And so I am deeply grateful to God for sending me here.

I did not choose Him.

He chose me.

BUT I CATHOLIC SCHOOL DURING THE JAPANESE OCCUPATION GOD GRADE TWO JERSEY CITY JESUIT HIGH SCHOOL NEW JERSEY RAMON CABRERA SAINT MARY
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