Every single one of us, made in the image of our God [ Imago Day, ] possesses many characteristics that not only resemble but flow from our Original Source of Existence. On this Memorial Day, like on most days, I am reminded of one of the main godly characteristics I admire most and have deep respect for — Sacrificial Love.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
As I pause every other train of thought within me to reflect on the brave acts of the heroes and warriors who, as they counted the cost, chose to faithfully and unreluctantly lay down their lives for a greater cause, I cannot seem to separate the essential quality of those individuals who gave their all so others could live, from the quality of the Life Force that led Christ to surrender himself to the very same cause — they cannot be separated. Their unmeasurably honorable valor and my incalculable respect for them, not just mine, but the sense of reverence from all those who value what they’ve done and attempt to comprehend the unfathomable, are beyond description.
The spirit of gratitude I have for the One who said “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me,” as He was about to be sacrificed and willingly accepted to fulfill His assignment, His higher calling, is not different nor detached from the profound sense of thankfulness I have toward the brave men who died in battle. Perhaps, most of our valiant heroes grew up knowing and inspired by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. He lives in us, as they will always be alive and consciously or unconsciously present in us and with us as well.
Borrowing from the words of the President Abraham Lincoln, “… from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain …”
As I was reading President George W. Bush’s speech, from his 2004 Memorial Day Presidential Address, I came across a paragraph that clearly demonstrates the self-assurance and fearlessness driving such admirable individuals to live and die for the noble cause of freedom: “Those who risked their lives on our behalf are often very clear about what matters most in their own lives, and they tell it to those they love. Master Sergeant Kelly Hornbeck, of the Special Forces, was killed in action last January, south of Samarra. To his parents back in Fort Worth, Texas, he wrote this: ‘I am not afraid, and neither should either of you be — For I trust in my God and my training, two powerful forces that cannot be fully measured.'”
Today, we not only remember and pay our deep respect to the fallen heroes and to their families, but we are also truly inspired to live in such a way that honor their lives and their heroic sacrifices.
“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” — Joseph Campbell
May God bless America and everyone faithfully committed to the cause.
Ronald Reagan: ‘Freedom is not bought cheaply’
The term Imago Dei refers most fundamentally to two things: first, God’s own self-actualization through humankind; and second, God’s care for humankind. To say that humans are in the image of God is to recognize the special qualities of human nature which allow God to be made manifest in humans. In other words, for humans to have the conscious recognition of their being in the image of God means that they are the creature through whom God’s plans and purposes can be made known and actualized; humans, in this way, can be seen as co-creators with God. The moral implications of the doctrine of imago Dei are apparent in the fact that if humans are to love God, then humans must love other humans, as each is an expression of God. The human’s likeness to God can also be understood by contrasting it with that which does not image God, i.e., beings who, as far as we know, are without self-consciousness and the capacity for spiritual/moral reflection and growth. Humans differ from all other creatures because of their rational structure — their capacity for deliberation and free decision-making. This freedom gives the human a centeredness and completeness which allows the possibility for self-actualization and participation in a sacred reality. However, the freedom which makes the human in God’s image is the same freedom which manifests itself in estrangement from God, as the story of the Fall [ Adam and Eve ] exemplifies. According to this story, humans can, in their freedom, choose to deny or repress their spiritual and moral likeness to God. The ability and desire to love one’s self and others, and therefore, God, can become neglected and even opposed. Striving to bring about the imago Dei in one’s life can be seen as the quest for wholeness, or one’s “essential” self, as pointed to in Christ’s life and teachings.
P.S. | Over the last few days, as I’ve been re-reading Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero With A Thousand Faces,” I’ve underlined some passages from his writings that are very fitting for today:
The effect of the successful adventure of the hero is the unlocking and release again of the flow of life into the body of the world. . . .
The godly powers sought and dangerously won are revealed to have been within the heart of the hero all the time. He is the “king’s son” who has come to know who he is and therewith has entered into the exercise of his proper power — “God’s son,” who has learned to know how much that title means. From this point of view the hero is symbolical of that divine creative and redemptive image which is hidden within us all, only waiting to be known and rendered into life.
“For the One who has become many, remains the One undivided, but each part is all of Christ,” we read in the writings of Symeon the younger [A.D. 949—1022]. “I saw Him in my house,” the saint goes on.
Among all those everyday things He appeared unexpectedly and became united and merged with me, and leaped over to me without anything in between, as fire to iron, as light to glass. And He made me like fire and like light. And I became that which I saw before and beheld from afar. I do not know how to relate this miracle to you. . . . I am man by nature, and God by the grace of God.