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The last word

Scott Boyle | Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I love when people try to guess my middle name. It’s one of my favorite, introductory, “get-to-know-you” type games. Normally, however, my question is met with blank stares. Unsuspecting (or admirably-willing) companions, however, will begin to list names like “Patrick,” “James” or “William.” But frustration always lurks around the corner, too, as a few harmless names turn into brow-furrowing lists.
I’m sure I have not charmed all these newfound acquaintances with my attempts at fun. (Perhaps I have even lost a few “to-be” friends, although I don’t have any empirical data to support that.) No matter when the white flag of surrender is tossed, however, I always share my middle name at the end: Mariscalco.  M-A-R-I-S-C-A-L-C-O. My full name is Scott Mariscalco Boyle.
When I was a kid, the color wheel of my face would immediately spin red when others inquired about my middle name. Many of my other friends had what I considered to be “normal” middle names like “Michael,” “John,” “Elizabeth” or “Anne.” I wanted to be like them. I wanted a different name.
But over time, I have grown to be proud of that name. Not only is it my middle name, but it’s my mom’s maiden name. It’s a name that reminds me of the importance of family, a name that connects me to many generations of “Mariscalcos” and to Sicily, a place they once called home.
I have been thinking recently about the importance of names, especially as we learn more details about the tragedy that occurred during the Boston Marathon just two short days ago. Before that day, chances are most of the names of racers, paramedics, police-officers and race organizers, all those who gave their time and talent to make the race a success, would have gone unknown. Numbered bibs and corresponding chips which delivered accurate times and a correct order of finish would have been the “heroes,” signs of a successful race.
But, times and order-of-finish are the farthest things from people’s minds right now. Names are what are important now. They are important to the husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, neighbors and friends who have tried to account for loved ones. They are important for recognizing and naming the stories of those who went above and beyond the call of duty, some after 26.2 miles, to help those most in need.
But, perhaps in the midst of this chaos and confusion, there is one name that is hard to keep close to our hearts: God. It’s easy to wonder where God was in the midst of this profound evil and suffering. How could so many innocent lives be affected? How is it fair that well over 100 lie injured in hospitals and a few others (including an eight-year-old boy) have died?
No amount of words will ever be able to explain, express, capture, contextualize or justify the events in Boston. Ray Bradbury once observed, “Mysteries abound where we most seek for answers.” But we must not let the emptiness we might feel entrap our hearts.
Henri Nouwen knew all of this when he wrote, “The emptiness of the past, [present] and the future can never be filled with words but only by the presence of a man.” And there is one man whose love alone can fill the emptiness we feel inside: Jesus Christ.
For two days approximately 2,000 years ago, it looked like death had won. Christ was crucified, killed by the forces of evil. Similarly, in Boston, the injuries and deaths may make it seem like evil has won there, too.
But Christ never promised there would never be evil in the world. After all, he himself was a victim of it. Instead, he promised it would never have the last word. His death and resurrection showed it is love, not evil, that will endure forever.  
Evil did not win 2000 years ago, and evil has not won today. God’s love has been in Boston and it will continue to remain there. You know how I know that? It’s quite simple. Many people have taken the time to remind us.
God’s love has been made present by the runners who decided 26 miles was not enough, those runners who had the strength and courage to keep running to Massachusetts General Hospital to give blood to help those who were injured. And Christ’s love is still present in all those who continue to work, day and night, to provide care and outreach to those victims affected by this tragedy.  
I heard once that faith is “seeing light with your heart when your eyes see only darkness.” Although it may be hard to see God in the midst of this darkness, let’s never forget God’s light and love have never left the city of Boston. Love will always have the last word. We just have to remember to see it.
Scott Boyle is a graduate of Notre Dame and an intern in the Office of Campus Ministry. He can be reached at
    The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.