The most fulfilling love one can experience is that of fully giving oneself without reservation and at all cost. In a sincere and total gift of self, we mirror Christ’s sacrificial love for us. St. John Paul II frequently quoted the passage from Gaudium et Spes, “Man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (GS 24).
Desmond Thomas Doss was a corporal who served as a combat medic in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946. Doss refused to carry a weapon into combat or to kill anyone because of his personal religious beliefs. In 1945, Doss became the only conscientious objector ever to receive the Medal of Honor. He was awarded the medal for his bravery in saving 75 men at the Battle of Okinawa without firing a single shot.
At the Battle of Okinawa, Doss’s unit, fighting at the top of a cliff, was being decimated and was forced to retreat. Doss was helping others off the ridge to safety, and at one point, a wounded soldier died in his arms. At this Doss prayed a simple prayer to God: “What do you want of me?” and with that he heard the cries of the many other wounded soldiers still in harm’s way on the ridge. Doss was very much aware of the danger of losing his life by going back to help. He helped because he heard God calling him to a sacrificial love for his fellow man. While lowering the wounded one at a time to safety, the rope caused his hands to bleed, and he prayed again, this time, “Lord, please help me to get one more.” Each time he brought another to safety, he repeated the prayer because he knew God would supply the courage and strength.
Through faith and selfless sacrifice, Doss fully gave himself up to God’s will, unconditionally, and at all costs. Beautifully said in John 15:13: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Following the example of this incredible hero in uniform, let us remember that we must not be afraid to get our hands sullied until they “bleed” out of love, doing all we can to help our families, and our fellow man in need with the same sacrificial love of Jesus. We can recall the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.” Let us reflect how we can respond more fully to God’s call. Lord, what do you want of me?
CHEF NEIL FUSCO is founder of Cucina Antica Foods, Corp., a specialty Italian food-products company. Raised on a farm in San Marzano in southern Italy, he learned his family’s production and cooking with the renowned San Marzano tomatoes they have grown there since the 1800s. His newly released cookbook is May Love Be the Main Ingredient At Your Table (2017), with amusing and heartfelt stories about faith, family, and recipes from his Old World childhood.
Prosciutto, Arugula and Melon Fig salad • serves 4
½ lb. prosciutto, thinly sliced
2 bunches arugula, washed and stemmed
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (suggested: Cucina Antica Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Cup pecans, toasted at 375˚
4 firm ripe figs
12 ½-inch slices honey dew melon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Cup Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/3 oz.)
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Place arugula in a large bowl and toss with 4 Tbsp. of vinaigrette.
Trim the tough stems from the figs and cut each fig into 8 slices. Season melon with salt and pepper. Wrap each slice of melon in two slices of prosciutto.
Mound the greens on 4 plates. Place 3 prosciutto-wrapped melons around the greens. Arrange 8 slices of fig (1 whole fig) on each plate. Shave Parmesan cheese over salads and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette.