HE GAVE HIS LIFE, WHAT MORE COULD HE DO?
While I was living and teaching in the Philippines, a lady’s trio from the USA came over to help us. That’s when I heard for the first time these lyrics: “We were the reason that He gave His life, We were the reason that He suffered and died, To a world that was lost, He gave all He could give, to show us the reason to live.” It remains one of my favorites to this day.
So when I read this fictional story written by Matthew Kelly, it touched my heart in a special way. So I wanted to share it with you.
Imagine this …
You’re driving home from work after a long day. You turn on your radio. You hear a blurb about a little village in India where some villagers have died suddenly, strangely, of a flu virus that has never been seen before. It’s not influenza, but three or four people are dead, and it’s kind of interesting, and they are sending some doctors over there to investigate it. You don’t think much about it, but coming home from church on Sunday you hear another radio spot. Only they say it’s not three villagers, it’s 30,000 villagers in the back hills of this particular area of India, and it’s on TV that night. FOX News runs a Special Report: people are heading there from the disease center in Atlanta because this disease might quickly turn into an epidemic.
By Monday morning when you get up, it’s the lead story. It’s not just India; it’s Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and before you know it, you’re hearing this story everywhere, and they have now coined it as “the mystery flu.” The President made the comment that he and his family are praying and hoping that all will go well over there. But everyone is wondering, “How are we going to contain it?”
That’s when the President of France makes an announcement that shocks Europe. He is closing their borders. No flights from India, Pakistan, or any of the countries where this thing has been seen. And that’s why that night you are watching a little bit of FOX News before going to bed. Your jaw hits your chest when a weeping woman is translated into English from a French news program. There are several people now lying in a hospital in Paris, dying of the mystery flu. It has come to Europe.
Panic strikes. As best they can tell, after contracting the disease, you have it for a week before you even know it. Then you have four days of unbelievable symptoms. And then you die. Britain closes its borders, but it’s too late. South Hampton, Liverpool, North Hampton, and it’s Tuesday morning when the President of the United States makes the following announcement: “Due to a national-security risk, all flights to and from Europe and Asia have been canceled. If your loved ones are overseas, I’m sorry. They cannot come back until we find a cure for this thing.”
Within four days our nation has been plunged into an unbelievable fear. People are wondering, “What if it comes to this country?” And preachers on Sunday are saying it’s the scourge of God. It’s Wednesday night, and you are at a church prayer meeting when somebody runs in from the parking lot and yells, “Turn on a radio, turn on a radio!” And while everyone in church listens to a little transistor radio being picked up by a microphone, the chilling news is heard. Two women are lying in a Long Island hospital, dying from the mystery flu. Within hours it seems, this disease envelops the country.
People are working around the clock, trying to find an antidote. Nothing is working. California, Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts. It’s as though it’s just sweeping in from the borders. And then all of a sudden the news comes out. The code has been broken. A cure can be found. A vaccine can be made. It’s going to take the blood of somebody who hasn’t been infected. So through all the channels of emergency broadcasting, everyone is asked to do one simple thing: Go to your nearest hospital and have your blood analyzed. That’s all you’re asked to you. Even though this is an emergency, please make your way quickly, quietly, and safely to the hospitals.
Sure enough, when you and your family get to the nearest hospital, there is a long line, and they’ve got nurses and doctors coming out and pricking fingers and taking blood and putting labels on it. Then they tell the people, “Wait here in the parking lot, and if we call your name, you can be dismissed and go home.” You stand around, along with strangers and neighbors, scared, wondering what on earth is going on, and if this is the end of the world.
Suddenly, a young man comes running out of the hospital waving a clipboard yelling. What he yells makes chills run down your spine. You are standing there in disbelief as your young son tugs on your jacket and says, “Daddy, that’s me.” As soon as you raise your hand to get their attention, they take hold of your son. “Wait a minute, hold on!” you say, “It’s okay, his blood is clean. His blood is pure. We want to make sure he doesn’t have the disease. We think he has the right blood type,” they reply. Then they tell everyone standing around you they can go home.
A short time later, out come the doctors and nurses are crying and hugging one another – some are even laughing. It’s the first time you have seen anybody laugh in a week. An older doctor walks up to you and says, “Thank you, sir. Your son’s blood is a perfect match. It’s clean, it is pure, and we can use it to make the new vaccine.” But then the gray-haired physician looks you and your wife in the eyes says, “May we see you inside for a moment?” After you are seated, he continues, “We didn’t realize that the donor would be a minor and we need you to sign a consent form.”
You begin to sign and then you see that the box for the number of pints of blood to be taken is empty. “H-h-h-how many pints?” you stutter. The elderly doctor’s smile fades, and he says, “We had no idea it would be this difficult. We weren’t prepared for this, but we will need all of it! Even though he’s only one person, his blood is just enough.” “But… but… I don’t understand. He’s my only son!” you plead. “We are talking about the world here,” the doctor says, “Please sign. We… we… need to hurry!” “But once you take his blood, can’t you give him a transfusion?” “It wouldn’t matter,” the physician replies, “we have no uninfected blood so he would die anyway. Please, please, sign the consent.”
In numb silence you do. Then they say, “Would you like to have a moment with him before we begin?” It wasn’t easy, but the parents get up and hurriedly walk back to that room where their son is stretched out on a table. When he sees them he asks, “Daddy? Mommy? What’s going on?” Could you take his hands and say, “Son, your mommy and daddy love you, and we would never ever let anything like this happen to you that wasn’t an emergency. Do you understand that?” The elderly doctor comes back in and says, “I’m sorry, we’ve got to get started. People all over the world are dying,” you can leave now. Could you walk out while your son is pleading with you, “Dad? Mom? Why are you forsaking me like this?”
A few days later the city has a ceremony to honor your son. Everyone is invited, but some folks sleep through it, and some folks don’t even bother to come because they have other things to do, and some folks come with a pretentious smile and just pretend to care. You can’t take it. You want to jump up and yell, “EXCUSE ME! MY SON DIED FOR YOU! DON’T YOU CARE? DOES IT MEAN NOTHING TO YOU?”
I wonder, is that what God wants to say every Sunday? “MY SON DIED FOR YOU. DOESN’T THAT MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU? DON’T YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I CARE FOR YOU BY LETTING HIM DIE LIKE THAT?”1 Some people do care. They gather every Sunday to thank God for His gift. So when His Son comes back to gather all those He saved, who have accepted His blood for their salvation, who do you think will go with Him, and who will He leave behind? – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1Matthew Kelly: Prologue, Rediscover Catholicism, Beacon Publishing, 2002