‘Who is black eyed Suzy?’, you may be asking, and what is the link to Fr Mario? Well it is a flower [The plant Rudbeckia (botanic name for black eyed Susan) was named after a Swedish physician and botanist Rudbeck. And while black eyed is simple – the plants have a black eye - none of my sources tell me who Susan was ☺].
In our terrace we have a ‘black eyed Suzy’ plant which Fr Mario gave us a year ago. During one of the home groups, Fr Mario came along with a box full of seedlings to plant in our terrace. Sure enough the next day they were planted and so far all survived. Natalie and I greatly appreciated his gift. They expressed who Fr Mario is. For us it showed that he stopped to think about us, he paid attention to our likings (we had mentioned that we like growing plants during the previous home group) and his love for life and nature. During the home group Fr Mario was also amazingly humble. As we discussed Scripture he would just listen most of the time and share his ideas like anyone else. Most of us most probably had only 1% of his knowledge and insights on Scripture.
As I went into St Julian’s Parish church for the last farewell Mass to Fr Mario, I was thinking about the Leadership Retreat we just had a week before and when Fr John had informed us that Fr Mario was unwell. I also thought how the Beatitudes which we prayed during the retreat described so well Fr Mario’s life. Sure enough, the Gospel reading at his funeral was Matthew 5-7.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The last time I had the honor to have a little chat with Fr Mario was when he was hospitalized because of his hip injury. When I went to visit him, as soon as I entered his room, the first words were not about his condition, but asking me about Natalie and the kids and asking if we are OK…the ever-caring Fr Mario. We will all miss you Fr Mario, but we will also treasure the great teachings you gave us over the years – the teaching through your living testimony, of constantly seeking to love Jesus and others with great humility.[/auth]