I came across a commencement address given a few weeks ago at the College of Mount Saint Mary by Bill O’Shaughnessy, the well-known kingpin of New Rochelle-based WVOX AM radio.
If you know anything about O’Shaughnessy, it’s probably that he’s good buds with Mario Cuomo and quotes him often.
Sure enough, in his address, O’Shaughnessy retold some religious lessons offered by the former gov. Here is the tale, straight from a transcript of his talk at the Catholic college up in Newburgh:
Mr. Cuomo said on the radio one day down in Westchester: All the major religions – Judaism … Christianity … Islam … Buddhism … have only two ideas at their foundation. Just two.
And you don’t need a guy who came down from the mountain with tablets to instruct you on these fundamental ideas. Or an O’Shaughnessy. Even an ethical humanist … or an atheist … should be able to figure this out as a smart, sensible, practical way of living.
It started – this one basic notion – with the Jewish people – the ancient Hebrews – four or five thousand years ago.
They called this instinct: TZEDAKAH … which means we’re all brothers and sisters … we’re all alike and we’re all in this together as children of the same, one God.
Then they added the second part: a concept known as: TIKUN OLAM … which means: God created the world … but didn’t finish it.
That’s our job … to finish it. To complete it.
And guess what … speaking of Plagiarism! … the Christians stole it whole from the Jews with the teaching of the Nazarean – the Carpenter’s Son.
Now, I’m a reporter, a broadcaster … so I can tell you exactly how it happened – with great certainty.
The Lord, you see, was striding down the street one day … hanging out with some followers … and a wise guy … a scoffer (probably a professor of Chemistry) said: “I heard you were sensational in the temple last night, Rabbi!”
The Lord replied, with a smile: “Yeah … I had … a pretty good night!”
And then the scoffer said: “So … give it to me in a headline … something I can understand. But do it in a 20-second headline …or a 60-second sound bite (for Mr. Abernethy) … I’m a little busy.”
The Lord said: “I’ll do it for you in 10 seconds … Love Your Neighbor … as you love yourself … for the love of Me … for I … am Truth.”
So that’s it? … I inquired of Mr. Cuomo.
That’s The Whole Law, said the Governor.
God created, but didn’t complete … or finish … the world in which we live and to which you now go forth.
And we are thus called to be “collaborators in Creation” as the philosopher Teilhard de Chardin put it. (another Jesuit!)
And with the essential confirmation from the Lord … to Love Your Neighbor … that really is … The Whole Law.