Tuesday, February 3, 2009


In 1971, a civil war erupted between the Eastern and western provinces of Pakistan. With the military involvement by India, it developed into an Indo-Pakistan war or Bangladesh Liberation war. Finally, East Pakistan was released as an independent nation, Bangladesh, with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as its first prime minister.

During the war, more than ten million refugees fled East Pakistan across the border to India. India opened several large refugee camps along its border. The camps were crowded and the refugees were left jobless, far away from their native land. Though all possible measures were taken to provide essential facilities to them, many refugees were in constant poverty and frequent starvation.

The head of a family of five children was wandering in search of a job or some food to feed his family in the camp. They had been starving for several days and the children were dying of hunger. He could not find any job or food. Finally, he made a bold decision.

After sunset he returned to the camp and gave his wife a packet covered with leaves. He said in a tired voice, “This is all I could gather today. It is some meat for you. Cook it and eat. Feed our children well. I don’t need it. Let me take some rest outside, in the open ground.”

She quickly cooked the meat and fed the children. She ate some of it and laid the children to sleep. Then she came out, holding a lamp, to meet her husband. Seeing him lying in a pool of blood, she cried aloud and fainted. The other refugees rushed to the scene and found that he was dead. There were two large wounds on his thigh. They realized that he had cut off the flesh from his thighs and presented it to his wife and children as his last gift, as he failed to find any food for his starving family.

Life is a great gift of God. We have to respect and preserve life. It is sinful to end life by suicide or homicide. It is forbidden to eat human flesh or to offer it as food; but the person in the story offered his flesh as his last attempt to save the life of his helpless dependents. His action may not be ethical but the story is quoted to display the spirit of superb love which compels one to sacrifice everything for the beloved. His sacrifice was an expression of his abundant affection to his starving family.

In the sacred sacrifice of Jesus we find a shower of infinite affection. He voluntarily sacrificed his life and shed even his last drop of blood to save us from sin and hell. He continues His holy sacrifice in the Eucharist, offering His body and blood to purify, redeem and strengthen us.

Jesus taught us, “The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them” {John 15: 13}.

St. Paul advises, “Since you are God’s dear children, you must try to be like him. Your life must be controlled by love, just as Christ loved us and gave his life for us as a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice that pleases God” {Ephesians 5: 1, 2}.

By: Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India.

This is story No.103 in this site. Please click ‘older posts’ at bottom of page to read previous stories.

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