And not just the world but my brother. Let me explain. This past week I’ve been talking about the great feast we celebrate this weekend – the Solemnity of Jesus Christ our Lord, King of the Universe. That is not the only feast we celebrated in our family. Last night we all celebrated with my brother Jeff and his family, his retirement from the Osage Beach Fire Department after 30 years of selfless service. It was a proud moment for all of us – his wife Diana, his two children Jeffrey and Erica and the all the others in the room who came to together last night to celebrate the career of a man who had given his best to his community. To say the least, it was a beautiful celebration.
What made the night especially special for me is that it was all made possible by the love of a Father, a saint of old and a living saint. Jeff will be the first to tell you that he had some very dark times he lived through as a young adult. He married at a fairly young age and, as fate would have it, divorced at a young age too. It was at that time I believe Jeff slipped into what I would call a deep depression. I know that because for a lot of the time after his divorce, I was lived with him. I was his roommate in the house he had bought until he could no longer afford it; then he lived in the apartment above Sarah and I when we were living on Louisiana. It was during this time that Jeff met a very close friend – let’s call him Jack – who was literally there to drown away his sorrows. As I said, this was a dark time for Jeff, and he spent many a night drinking Jack and many a morning regretting he did that. That is where the love of the Father stepped in…and the saint of old…and the living saint.
Jeff took a job with the Archdiocese and moved to Camp Don Bosco in Hillsboro MO. It was a great retreat for Jeff and he was able to get away from a lot of the demons that were chasing after him at the time. Camp Don Bosco was named after Saint Don Bosco – the saint of old I referred to because he lived immediately following the Napoleonic Wars. Jeff needed this retreat, he needed to be in the beautiful, serene grounds that allowed him to relax and get away for a while. It was also on these beautiful grounds that the living saint came into his life and saved him – his wife Diana. It was on those grounds that the love of our God, our Father, brought these two people together and it was on those grounds that I believe our loving Father was able to wash away enough of the sin and guilt Jeff was carrying with him and allow him to start anew. And people I am here as a witness – Jeff did good. Jeff did great.
He and Diana married, have two beautiful children in Jeffrey and Erica (and his son now has a beautiful wife, Bre). He has served on the board of numerous charities, he has headed up charitable causes (one of them is the annual Shootout at the Lake) that have donated millions of dollars for charities. He started as volunteer fireman and since 2006, has been the Chief of the Osage Beach Fire Department. Again, I am so proud of what my brother Jeff has become after being saved by the love of a Father, a saint of old and his living saint, Diana.
I say all this today because my brother is the best example I can offer to any of you who are struggling in life now. Fight the fight, live to see another day. Allow the love of God and the love of someone else to help you through your battles with the demons that surround you. We adore you O Christ, and we praise You, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed my brother Jeff. I can’t help but write what my brother Jim would be yelling now – “THANK YOU JESUS!!!”
Do something great for our Lord today…get to Mass, celebrate His coronation as King of the Universe. Allow His love, allow the love of His Father – our Father – to reach deep inside you and heal all that has you down.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.
He must increase; I must decrease.
But you, man of God, chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.