Some time ago, I was listening to Catholic radio and the host told the following story that is worth repeating.

A young couple, Patricia and Tom, with a four year old named Jimmy, excitedly waited for the birth of another child. Unfortunately, Patricia went into premature labor, and their little girl, Cindy, was born with a rare anomaly in her blood. She needed a blood transfusion. Cindy’s parents were not matches. Jimmy was the only member of the family with a suitable blood type.

Tom, in a very gently way, tried to explain the situation to his son. He took Jimmy to visit his baby sister and explained how tiny and sick she truly was. Jimmy asked, “Can’t the doctors make her well?” Tom sat down next to Jimmy and said, “They can, but she needs a blood transfusion. That’s a big word that means she needs someone else’s blood to get better. Mommy’s and Daddy’s blood does not have what she needs. But, your blood does. I am asking you if the doctors could use your blood to save Cindy’s life.” Jimmy looked down at the floor and said, “What will the doctors do?” Tom continued, “All you will feel will be a stick in your arm. You will have no other pain. I will be standing next to you the entire time.” Reluctantly, Jimmy shook his head in affirmation.

As the transfusion began, Jimmy squeezed his dad’s hand with all his strength. He admitted that he was scared. Tom said, “Be brave, my son! I am here!”

As the technician inserted the needle, Jimmy’s body jumped as one tear ran down his cheek. “There,” she said, “I’m all done!” Jimmy watched as his blood trickled into the clear plastic bag. His eyes filled with tears, and he looked up at his dad and asked, “When is it going to happen?” Tom looked at him, confused. “When am I going to die?” Jimmy asked. Tom replied, “Why are you asking that?” Jimmy responded through his tears and heaving sighs, “I know I can’t live without blood. I am giving my blood so Cindy can live. That means that I will die.” Tom put Jimmy in his arms, kissed his sobbing son, and said, “Oh my son! My dear, dear son! I promise that you will not die now. The doctors will only take a small amount of your blood. You will run and play with your sister, I promise!” Dad and son both shared tears of joy.

I could not help think of this story as I continue to reflect on the Sacred Heart and the mystery of redemption. Pius XII, in his encyclical, On Devotion to the Sacred Heart, writes, “The mystery of the divine redemption is primarily and by its very nature a mystery of love, that is, of the perfect love of Christ for His heavenly Father to Whom the sacrifice of the Cross, offered in a spirit of love and obedience, presents the most abundant and infinite satisfaction due for the sins of the human race; ‘By suffering out of love and obedience, Christ gave more to God than was required to compensate for the offense of the whole human race.’” (35)

It is always amazing when we see echoes of this divine love in the heart of human beings; a love that is willing to die so that others might be saved. The Sacred Heart of Jesus truly pumps in the chest of anyone who is willing to die for another. Don’t you think so?

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness