I didn’t know Tim Russert. By the time he got to Washington, I was long since gone to sunny Palm Beach County, Florida, far removed from the seat of all wisdom.
I’ve been listening to the great mass of tributes to Tim Russert, and while almost all concentrated on his zest for the game of politics and his well-earned reputation for being a doting father and a devoted son and a genuinely nice guy, few zeroed in on what made him the man he was.
A faithful Catholic from the time of his childhood to the moment of his death, Tim Russert walked in the footsteps of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, never deviating from Christ’s command that we love another even as He loves us -- one of the hardest commands to obey in a world with lots of unlovable people.
Tutored by his faith, Russert knew and understood that he was required by his faith to see Jesus in everyone we encounter, no matter how hidden He might be. And Tim Russert never had any trouble with that idea. He treated everyone with the same respect with which he would have treated Jesus.
“Love one another as I have loved you,” Jesus told us. Tim Russert was listening. He had a smile for everyone, always a nice or encouraging word to say. None of this was a pose -- that’s just the way he was -- the way his Lord wanted him and all the rest of us to be. All the rest of us may fail in that respect -- Tim Russert never did. Where we readily see the S.O.B. in those who offend us, Tim Russert saw his Lord.
In contentious strife-filled times, Tim Russert was an anachronism, clinging to a faith that bade him love everybody who crossed his path.
He lived his faith fully, every living minute of his life.
I will not mourn his passing. He is now where he was born to be. It is said that only the good die young. His premature death proved the truth of that adage. He’s out of here, reaping the rewards promised by his Lord for those who love him and show it by loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.
I mourn deeply for his beloved wife and son, his son, and Big Russ, the dad he worshipped. I know what it's like to lose a beloved spouse. I mourn for his colleagues, now bereft of the giant, who walked in their midst, loved them and inspired them.
I celebrate his life and the lesson his Lord taught him: “Love one another, as I have loved you.’
That he did to the fullest measure.
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