The story of Leslie Lemke begins in Milwaukee in 1952. His mother gave him up for adoption at birth. As a complication of his premature birth, Leslie developed retinal problems, then glaucoma, and his eyes had to be surgically removed in the first months of life. There was also brain damage, and Leslie was extremely ill. The county asked May Lemke, a nurse-governess who they knew and trusted, if she would take Leslie into her receiving home, ill as he was and carrying such a dire prognosis. That didn’t deter May. At age 52, and having raised five children of her own, May Lemke said she would. And she did.
Every day May massaged the baby’s entire body. She prayed over him, cried over him, she placed his hands on her tears. As Leslie grew, so did May’s problems.
They years passed. When Leslie was six he learned to stand alone. All this time he didn’t respond to her. But all this time May continued to love him and pray over him. Then one day May noticed Leslie’s finger plucking a taut string on a package. She wondered whether Leslie was sensitive to music. May began to surround Leslie with music. She played every type of music imaginable.
Leslie played and sang often, but mostly the simple tunes May sang or popular songs from the radio. May wasn’t into classical music. In the early morning hours May heard music. She thought Joe had left the television on. She went to turn it off and there was Leslie, playing flawlessly from beginning to end, having heard it but once, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, which was the theme song for that movie. God’s miracle, May said, came into full bloom that night. May dropped to her knees and said, “Thank you, dear God. You didn’t forget Leslie.”
In June 1980 Leslie gave a concert in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. People were amazed by what they had seen — a young man who is blind, mentally challenged, with cerebral palsy, and never having had a music lesson in his life playing what seemed like a limitless repertoire and repeating flawlessly whatever was played to him after a single hearing.
This Sunday’s second reading and the Gospel reading speak about the command to Love. 1 John reminds us that God has first loved us. He has showered His Mercy on us. In the Gospel reading we hear that we are to love one another as Jesus loves us, with a selfless love, a love willing to give His Life for us. We are called to sacrificial love.
Look at the story of May and Leslie, it tells us what love does in our life. LOVE does miracles. Love does bit have any reservation. It is for everyone. It makes us equal before God. Jesus tells us “this is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”