Today is Passion Sunday (aka Palm Sunday). We hear the proclamation of the Passion of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, according to Mark (this year). We hear of Jesus offering all of Himself for our sakes, His very flesh and blood, all that He is.
Reflection on this profound mystery can go in many ways. In this short space I wish to focus on one of the ways we can imitate Our Savior very concretely and pragmatically.
Jesus shed His blood for us. We can imitate Him in donating our blood, literally shedding our blood for others. For example, Fr. Bob Michele, one of the priests who resided until a few months ago at our Paulist house here at St. Austin Parish, received six units of blood after a bout of internal bleeding. The blood that was donated by others literally saved his life.
Jesus gave His Blood to save us for all eternity. It seems spiritually fitting and appropriate to give our blood to save the lives of others. Every Lent I try to donate blood as part of my Lenten practice (This Lent I was “deferred” because I had been in Guatemala). This is a very helpful thing to do throughout the year as blood is always in need, but during Lent it seems to me to have an added spiritual dimension. In some small way I can imitate Christ’s sacrifice. So if you are able to give blood, I encourage you to do so throughout the year. You can find out more about blood donations at www.inyourhands.org. It is easy, quick, and pretty painless.
Jesus also gave His Body for us. We can also imitate Him in this way by becoming an organ or tissue donor. Lives can be saved at the time of our death by setting up a donation of our organs ahead of time. There is a critical shortage of organs, tissues and eyes available for donation. There are more than 96,000 patients in the United States awaiting transplantation—more than 7,000 are Texans. A few weeks ago St. Austin parishioner Beverly Thiel gave a presentation on organ donation that was very informative and moving. Watch the bulletin for a repeat of this presentation.
You can become an organ donor in about a minute at www.donatelifetexas.org. There you can find out a great deal more information about giving your organs to save the lives of others, in a similar way that Jesus gave His Body to save you and me.
My mother, Bernice, died in December of 2007. We don’t have a grave marker for her. This is not because we are slow getting it, but rather that she has no grave. She donated her body to St. Louis University Medical School. You see, there is a great need for cadavers for teaching doctors, physical therapists, and other medical students. My youngest sister ran into this when she went to St. Louis University to become a physical therapist. My Mother decided to help some future medical student by the donation of her body. My mother was a very giving person, and in this way her mortal remains continued to give back, helping some future doctor or therapist.
This weekend, as we contemplate the gift of Jesus’ total self – flesh and blood – for our sake, I hope that you will consider giving of yourself to help others by scheduling an appointment to donate blood if you can do so, by signing up to be an organ donor, or even consider donating your mortal remains for medical education. In giving ourselves away, we find who we truly are.