Forgetting the self

Earlier today I was listening to the radio and Deputy J. Jonas shared his story about 9/11.  He was a firefighter running down the stairs telling people to exit the building.  At nearly every floor there was a fellow firefighter helping people, replying, “I have to stay. I can’t leave them. I have to help.”  It was an intense retelling, every floor, people dying and screaming.  No matter what J. Jonas said, his co-workers would not leave.  Most of them — the firefighters and the people they were helping — perished when the building collapsed.

He said, “They were in imminent peril, but they had to help people who needed help.” They disregarded their own safety, even their own families. They stayed even when it was hopeless.

I was fighting tears listening to this.  I was immediately reminded of Galatians 2:20 —

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

It’s not a verse that many people would connect, but I remembered: I no longer live.  The truly selfless person who understands love no longer lives, but lives for others — just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us.

The unsung heroes of 9/11, whether they knew it or not, embodied this sort of love to the fullest. Their sacrifice was not in vain. Love keeps going, even when it looks hopeless: and that is hope.