Until I saw it, I didn’t realize that much of Israel’s Mount of Olives is a cemetery. Here, those who remember the dead place a stone of remembrance on top of their loved one’s grave.
Today, in America, we use this Memorial Day to honor those who have lost their lives fighting for our country.
But those who remember the ultimate sacrifice of a loved family member or friend are only doing today what they do everyday– acknowledge with pain the inexpressible value of a person.
I’ve often tried to calculate in my own mind the value of just one person. I’ve imagined what I’d do if the devil appeared to me and tried to negotiate for the soul of someone I dearly love.
In my imagination, I’ve heard the evil one say, “I know you have two children. Name your price. I’ll give you more than you’ve ever dreamed of having for either of them…
What about all of the oil in the Mideast? All the real estate in the world? All the industry on the planet? I’ll throw in personal happiness, good health, and a long life for you if you’ll give me the soul of your son or daughter.”
Your answer would be the same as mine. Yet, I’m still surprised whenever I think about it. All of the money in all of the treasuries of the world could not tempt us to sell-for any price-someone we love.
But then I imagine a second question. I hear him say, “OK, then, let’s change the terms. I’ll make it easier for you. All I’ll ask is for your assent for me to take the soul of someone you don’t even know…
I’ll orchestrate circumstances to give you a million dollars for the pathetic child of someone you’ve never even met. And if you want more, I’ll give you all of the money, real estate, and industry of the world for the soul of someone else’s child?
What amazes me, is that in spite of all of the evil, self-centered rot that is in me, and even though I know that in countless ways, I have betrayed the trust and best interests of those who are dear to me– I can’t imagine myself knowingly accepting any price for anybody’s baby.
So, what happens? How do we– every day of our lives– fail to give some person– whose value could never be adequately estimated– the honor that we owe that person in life and death?
Maybe the best answer is that we are not God. I don’t know. I feel like I have just barely begun to think about this…