No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15: 13)

Last August, when I was visiting my mom in Houston, I was touched by the sacrificial love of a Texas mother during the flooding following Hurricane Harvey. On August 29, Colette Sulcer, a 41-year-old Texan, was driving in her car with her three-year-old daughter when suddenly, she hit high water. After she pulled into a parking lot and got out of the car, the flood’s current carried both Sulcer and her child about a half mile. Somewhere along that distance, while keeping her daughter perched above the water, Sulcer drowned. Officer Carol Riley, a spokesperson for the Beaumont Police Department, reported that “when the baby was found, she was clinging to her mother. She did the best she could to keep her child above the water. The woman absolutely saved the child’s life.”

Sacrificial love is the highest form of love. It is selfless. Its priority is the welfare of others before oneself. Most of us experience the sacrificial love of our parents. They give up their lives, their time and their finances to their children without thinking of themselves. Sacrificial love isn’t about doing what we do well but giving more than we have to give, doing more than we know how to do, sharing more than we thought we could. Sacrificial love means investing our time, money, talents, gifts and service in our love for others. Sacrificial love means being willing to empty ourselves, to give ourselves for the sake of others.

Another term for sacrificial love is agape love. Agape love basically means to be self-sacrificing. God’s love for the whole world is a sacrificial love, a giving love, unconditional love so that we can have life. This love is shown in John 15: 13, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” The greatest act of sacrificial love was when Jesus willingly sacrificed his life to free us from our bondage to sin. We must never forget that love comes from God and that God is love. Once we begin to grasp the depth of God’s love for us, then we will be able to love others in sacrificing our lives for them.

St. Maximilian Kolbe who died for one of the prisoners in Auschwitz, said, “Let us remember that love lives through sacrifice and is nourished by giving. Without sacrifice, there is no love.”

Let us remember the words of John the Apostle, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity for them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:16-18).

Sr. Thuy Doan, SSMO