"Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
"Ok, great. I will pick you up at 9:00am and we will head to the shore, don't forget the blanket and chairs." Karen said to her friend. "I will bring the chips and salsa." said Daisy. They both were excited about their day off and the unofficial kick off to summer. When they arrived at the beach, the sun was out. It was hot and the sand felt nice and warm. "This is so relaxing. Just what I needed." concluded Karen. Within the first hour at the beach, both friends talked about their dead-end jobs, the monotony of life and their perspective boyfriends. Then all of a sudden it started getting cloudy and the sun disappeared. The clouds were now looking dark and both felt rain drops. With a huge thunder and then a downpour, they ran to the the concession stand to get shelter from the storm. "This sucks" said Daisy. "What should we do?" After a half hour of waiting under the concession stand, both friends decided to go home. Their day at the beach took a turn for the worst and both were dissapointed.
When we think of Memorial Day, many of us think of cook-outs, time at the beach or going to a parade. But what is Memorial Day really about? Have you ever thought about why we have the day off and are we really celebrating anything? Memorial Day is an American Holiday that is always on the last Monday in May. It honors the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. Military. It was originally known as Decoration Day and originated in the years following the civil war. Many years after the civil war in the late 1860's, Americans in various towns and citites began holding springtime tributes to the fallen soldiers by decorating their graves and reciting prayers. For decades Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30th but then congress passed the uniform Monday act which celerates it on the last Monday in the month of May. It became an official federal holiday in 1971.
Many of us don't realize the sacrafice that men and women make while serving in the military. If you have a family member or a friend who is in military service, then you know what that means. It could be time away from the family for months on end and even years. My niece is in the Air National Guard, as well as her dad and his dad as well. It runs in the family. My niece gives up her weekends to serve our country. This is what she signed up for. Their long hours of serving the country can go unnoticed and people don't see the value. All of the men and women who have died serving our country, gave the ultimate sacrafice. To die for our freedom. That is Love.
There is no greater love than that. Love is not a feeling. It is an action and many people who have died for others have shown great love. Jesus also gave His life for others. He died for us to save the human race from sin and evil. He opened the gates of Heaven so we can share eternal life with Him. Just as some people don't see the love of military service, many people don't see the love that Jesus has for humanity. Growing up, I thought that everyone knew Jesus. But when I entered college, and entered the working world, I came to realize that many, many people don't really know Him. They may have heard of His name, or maybe think of Him as a prophet. But to know Him personally, is to spend time with Him daily, talk with Him and hear Him talk back. To tell Him about your day, just like a conversation with a spouse or friend. It's a relationship like no other. It's Love beyound all human understanding. He's inviting all of us into knowing this Love. Are you open to hearing Him, to His invitation?
In Conclusion: This Memorial Day weekend, take time to thank a woman or man in the military. Appreciate what they do and why they do it. Also, if you don't know Jesus, take time to get to know Him. There are churches open daily for this purpose. Reach out and talk to a Pastor or a Faith Formation Director. A relationship with Jesus is what you are looking for and that aching heart of yours will be cured once you seek Him. There is no greater love than to die for one's friends. He did that for you. Don't you want to say Thank You?
About the Author: Donna L. Marotto is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Faith Formation Director/Youth Ministry and Lay Franciscan. Her book "Love Changes Everything" is on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you would like her to do a retreat/talk, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org