Sacrifice Means Giving Up Something Good

A follow up to my masking post.

Sikh doctor chooses to shave ‘in this time of need’

“It was an extremely difficult decision for us, but one that we felt was absolutely necessary in this time of need,” Singh-Saluja says. “It’s a decision that has left me with much sadness. This was something that had been so much part of my identity. I look at myself in the mirror very differently now. Every morning when I see myself, it’s a bit of a shock.”

“Singh-Saluja is a deeply religious Sikh, and according to the tenets of his religion, one of the pillars of his faith, “kesh,” is the practice of “allowing one’s hair to grow naturally out of respect for the perfection of God’s creation.”

However, another of the pillars of his faith is “seva,” which relates to service toward mankind.”
“But because COVID-19 has become so rampant in our community, it just wasn’t feasible anymore (not to wear a N95 mask). There are so many people coming in. I felt I just couldn’t sit on the sidelines. This was an exception to the rule, so we had to do what we had to do to help out.

A (non-Catholic) friend asked me: “Do you see parallels between Catholics missing mass and this story? I find it fascinating.”

And… that’s it, actually. I honestly didn’t think of it until she asked, but there’s a really good parallel here: giving up a good, a precept of the faith, for a greater common good. A sacrifice isn’t giving up something bad, but giving up something that is good and valuable in itself. The more valuable the good you are giving up, the more painful the sacrifice, but also the more valuable in the economy of grace.

This is a profound sacrifice. It really moves me.

I am moved because this doctor feels profound sadness at his sacrifice, because it wasn’t easy. Because he had to wrestle with it. But ultimately he decided that love and faith called him to sacrificial service.

It’s a true sacrifice, a painful one, precisely because it’s giving up something which they deeply believe is a duty they owe to God, but they make the sacrifice out of love and a desire to serve. So it is with us who deeply believe we have an obligation to go to Mass on Sunday as the way to keep the Lord’s day holy. And indeed we do and it’s an obligation which we don’t sacrifice lightly. But the depth of what we are giving up shows how much we care for the vulnerable in our midst. It says: we love you enough to give up this incredible treasure, this fundamental duty to God.

It seems right and true that this be a way we show our love for the God who says that we can have no greater love than to lay down our life for our friends, for the God who became man and who became obedient and who laid down his own will for the sake of others. For the one who says “the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.”

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