The Virtue of Sacrifice
During the Second World War in France a Christian clergyman by the name of Eugene Masure was involved in resistance of the Nazi occupation. Time and time again the Rev. Mr. Masure observed and personally was moved by the beyond-heroic actions of his fellow citizens to protect, at times with their lives, the innocent from overbearing cruelty. With his own eyes he engaged with people who were living into the instructive words of Jesus to his disciples: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 5:13) Through the lens of his Christian faith he realized that he was seeing nothing less than significant personal sacrifice. Accordingly, he devised a contemporary definition of sacrifice that he and others could understand:
“The modern sense of the word sacrifice with its implication of generosity seems to be based on this psychology. We do not say that a man who does his duty or pays his debts is making a sacrifice. That does not seem to start until we willingly give something of our own to forward the betterment, moral or physical, of this unsatisfactory world.”
Our twenty-first century ideal of Christian knighthood is based upon a variety of virtues such as chivalry, service and courage. Indeed, to protect the innocent, at times with one’s own life, is the most noble of all actions that a human being can take on behalf of a person in need. It is my belief that the virtues of Christian knighthood are made possible only when we are committed to personal sacrifice; when we place the needs of the other ahead of our own; when we are willing to forgo our own safety and comfort for the sake of another.
Knights and dames, whether you are contemplating the care of battered spouses in a shelter complex, the rescue and sustainment of abandoned or neglected children, or the protection of Middle-eastern refugees, the ultimate virtuous ideal of sacrifice must be a primary consideration for your work. How do you know when you are involved in actual personal sacrifice? As an answer to this question, you may want to employ this consideration. If you cannot gain anything in return for your acts and you know that your contributions are personally costly, you will know that by the grace of God you have embraced the honored virtue of sacrifice. According to our Lord Jesus, this is the greatest love a Knight or Dame can have and can give away.
Ed. note: scriptural translations are from the New Revised Standard Version