|Shannon Johnson (L) and Denise Perazea (R)|
What made these two ordinary individuals noteworthy, is what happened moments later. Two terrorists would burst into this office building in San Bernadino California, that fateful day this past December, unleashing a hail of bullets on all these innocent people, killing 14 people and injuring over 20 more people. Denise took a bullet to her lower back, when Johnson scooped her up, brought her under the same table they had just been having their ordinary conversation at, grabbed a chair as a shield on one side, and then wrapping himself around her on the other, and uttering three words to Denise, which would be the last three Johnson would ever speak "I’ve got you."
We often hear similar stories of such courage, bravery, selflessness in the face of immense evil
Rarely though, do we think about what it’s like to be the recipient of such acts of love: The greatest of love - the laying down of one’s life for another. The emotional impact such a gift must make on the recipient, how such an act must cause a re-evaluation of priorities for that individual - how they live their own lives in light of this act of supreme generosity realizing that someone offered their very selves so that they could live.
We rarely think of it, again, hoping never to have to be in a situation like that in the first place. Forgetting. . . we already have been.
Palm Sunday and this week we call Holy Week are meant to bring each and everyone of us face to face with that reality. We just proclaimed, and will focus this week on Jesus’ Passion where we recount his unjust arrest and trial, his brutal torture and execution on the Cross on Good Friday. But we’re not meant to listen to this somewhat disinterestedly, as outsiders, recounting a horrendous story of what happened to an innocent man. Jesus’ death meant something, means something to us here and now. Selfishness, envy, greed, pride on the part of many had blinded people to the beauty of God’s love made real in Jesus Christ, kept them from hearing his life-giving words, from experiencing the fullness and endless life He was coming to offer humanity as He was crucified some 2000 years ago.
This is our hope. How does that change our life and how we want to live it? Modeling a life of hope is the best sermon those who are lost will see. Jesus saved you, will you allow sacrifice in your life to show hope to others so that they may be saved? We are blessed to be a blessing. May we offer this gift of hope and see what God will do through our sacrifice.