Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sacrifices Forgotten

Last night on the way home from the adoration chapel The Redeye Radio Show began, and I heard the hosts announce: “Welcome to our Memorial Day Show.”  And with little further ado, they took their first caller to the show.  The man was a veteran who suffered from PTSD; it was a lasting memory for him of the war he fought for us.
The man drifted over what he actually did during the war --- I find most soldiers who fought are like that, as my dad was.  War is hell; it is not something you talk about.  Veterans truly are men who have been to hell and back, and it’s hard to speak of the horrors they’ve seen --- and perhaps even had to do.
The veteran spoke of his return home, and how it seemed a strange place.  He had changed, and he couldn’t easily change back to the man he had been.  He still loved his family, but he wasn’t the husband and father they had known.  He spoke of the nightmares, the flashbacks, and his thoughts of suicide to end the never-ending horrible memories.  (I think every man goes to war wanting to survive --- but not like this.  Although he didn’t die, this man sacrificed his life for us.  Do we remember him and those like him?)
The veteran spoke of attempts at help, and of the days he and others sat in waiting rooms at the VA hospital, and of how even when they were finally called, it was still as if they were just a number.  No one seemed to care.  No one understood.  He eventually posted his suicide thoughts on social media, and then to his surprise within minutes his phone began to ring, calls from men he had served with.  His sergeant, his leader in war, called and said he would continue to be there to lead him --- as long as the veteran’s war lasted.  And then the man named his sergeant, and publicly thanked him for saving his life --- and remembering.
The veteran told his story for about 20 minutes on the radio show, uninterrupted by any commercials, comments, questions, or even a cough from the show hosts.  He spoke clearly and firmly, and for at least those 20 minutes all the show’s listeners heard and remembered how blessed they were, by the sacrifices of men like this.  (More people need to hear voices like this.)
Today is Corpus Christi Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  It’s kind of a celebration of multiple events:  Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ.  We celebrate how he offered His body on the cross --- “Greater love than this hath no man.”  We celebrate how he offers His Body to us each day in communion at mass, and in the quiet of the adoration chapel.  In each of these circumstances God humbles Himself; He waits for us.  And in His waiting --- a God is waiting on us!!! --- He patiently washes our feet.  And He loves us, even if we don’t show up, even if we don’t remember.
What a great blessing we have in a God Who promised He would never leave us, for Whom no sacrifice is too great.  And like the veteran in the waiting room, he waits alone as we forget all He has done for us.  Like the rich man in today’s Gospel, we can’t get beyond loving ourselves first, no matter what blessings Others have given us.
Today before mass I lit a candle for forgotten veterans, and all during mass thoughts came to me of how easily we forget the blessings of this country, and I cried.  On college campuses ROTC courses are not allowed, and few consider military service as a job option.  Two things most families discourage today are their sons becoming priests or soldiers.  How did we get to this, detesting those who bless us?
The soldier willing to give his life; Jesus Who offered His life and eternal love, and the rich man who couldn’t let go of his riches ---- so much to ponder on this day; so much to cry over.  So important that we remember, we pray for, and we give thanks for these sacrifices forgotten.

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