The truth is that few if any individuals alive today have not had their lives impacted by the current Covid-19 pandemic. The spread of the virus across the globe has been both unforeseen and unprecedented. In its wake, entire ways of life have been altered. What is more, the “new normal” that so many of us are currently experiencing will apparently be with us for the foreseeable future, and maybe even for some time beyond that.
But my purpose in this post is not to rehash the troublesome headlines. My strong suspicion is that each one reading this blog is already well aware of the gravity of the situation. Instead, my purpose today is to point to a silver lining (or two or three) in the dark cloud under which we are all now living.
I will begin with a Fox News headline from last Thursday, March 26, which read: “Texas Roadhouse CEO Foregoes Salary For 1 Year To Pay Workers Amid Coronavirus: Reports”. This magnanimous gesture taken by Texas Roadhouse CEO and founder Kent Taylor is designed to help struggling employees amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. The article further stated that the company will also suspend its dividend during the crisis.
Mr. Taylor is not alone. Other CEOs have quickly followed suit. According to an article in Fox Business News, numerous other corporate bosses have also voluntarily given up their salaries for the foreseeable future. Among them are the CEOs of AMC Theaters, American Airlines, Boeing, Cheesecake Factory, Delta Airlines, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Endeavor, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, Lyft, Marriott, United Airlines, Walt Disney, and YUM! Food Brands.
All I can say is “kudos” to these corporate leaders for taking this initiative and demonstrating not only ethical leadership but also moral integrity in the face of the enormous difficulties currently faced by others. Their actions may well prove life saving for others in such desperate need!
But as magnanimous as these gestures are, they still pale in comparison to the sacrifice in one last article I would like to reference.
According to another Fox News article published on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, a priest in Italy has now died from the coronavirus after giving up his respirator to a complete stranger! Father Don Giuseppe Berardelli is being called a "Martyr of Charity" for refusing a respirator in order that a younger patient, whom he did not previously know, could use it to ward off the virus.
What is more, Father Berardelli requested any information about the unknown recipient of the ventilator be kept confidential. As a result, this humble clergyman, who lived his life largely in obscurity in the heretofore relatively unknown town of Casnigo, Italy, has now become one of at least 6,000 people to have died in the epicenter of the deadly pandemic in Europe.
Comparisons are already being made between the selfless act of Father Berardelli and that of Maximilian Kolbe, who in an earlier generation, volunteered to take the place of a condemned man with a family at Auschwitz, only to be killed as a result.
I would go a step further than this. I would reference the words of Jesus Christ Himself, Who (in the New Testament Gospel of John, chapter 15, verse 13) once said “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.”
Of course, Jesus Christ did more than just preach this great doctrine. He also lived it out – namely by laying down His own life on behalf of all people in all places at all times. In so doing, He became an absolute life-saver for each and every one of us.
And for Don Giuseppe Berardelli to have chosen to emulate his Lord and Savior by doing much the same thing is beyond commendable. It is laudable, and even praiseworthy!
May each of these two sacrifices, the first by Jesus Christ that made possible eternal life for us all, and the second by one of His faithful followers that made possible earthly life for one of us, inspire and motivate each of us in turn to find ways to follow suit and live sacrificially on behalf of others!
For indeed, by their very nature, such sacrificial acts demonstrate that love truly is greater than any other force on earth!
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