Christmas ideas for the blog flooded my mind this morning. It's only hours away. I could write about traditions, carols, my favorite experiences. How best to capture the emotions of the season?!
I logged on to Facebook. The news-feed was going a mile a minute. But then something caught my eye, stopped me in my keystroke. It wasn't someone I knew personally, though there are many connections.
Joe Rolph was a friend on Facebook, went to the same high school, knew some of my family, and was friends with various fellow seminarians.
I wasn't at all prepared for it. Maybe what kind of summed it all up was what one person posted on his wall, "Is this for real?"
Now there's a group dedicated to him on Facebook and the summary reads, "Our beloved son, brother, and friend passed away Tuesday, December 20, 2011 due to complications of his heart surgery. Though he was taken far too soon, Joe blessed us with 18 years of wonderful memories"
How is it possible that someone so full of life and love could be ripped out of this world so heartlessly. The testimonies of friends, teachers, and perfect strangers are overwhelming. He was a friend and brother to dozens of others. He shared pains, tough times, but above all joys with all those around him.
As one friend said, "Whenever i saw you, you had a smile on and every who saw you had a smile on. Keep crackin jokes for me up there. :] and make sure you look over all of us. You're going to be missed dearly, but like my mom said, God must've wanted you more!"
He is one of those people that we feel a loss just because we missed the opportunity to have known him.
And does this have anything to do with Christmas? I think so. Pope Benedict says that perhaps the hardest thing to believe in Christianity is that God could love us so much. If the stable in Bethlehem on Christmas shows us anything, it's that!
"For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life" (Jn 3:16).
And what better way does God continue to love to us than through those around us, through Joe and all those people who transmit his joy and love.
This Christmas Joe will be enjoying Christmas live, in heaven, and I pray that from there he continue to help us experience joy and love down here!
The following group has been created to honor and celebrate Joe. Please direct your comments, memories, and photos of him to that page.