True love is measured by sacrifice

by Jeff Hedglen

My mother was a chain smoker for most of my life. Every morning, no matter where I sat at the breakfast table, the smoke from her cigarette would find me.

This was just a part of life in our house. Mom smoked, and her cigarettes were one of the few indulgences she allowed herself.

But it is not a rare thing for a mother to love her children and do nearly anything for them. I distinctly
remember the moment when I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that my mother put nothing before me.

I was 19 years old, broke, and out of gas on the side of the road. After getting a ride home, I asked my mother for some money to get me through until I got paid. She reached into her purse and went to the “secret” emer- gency cigarette-money compartment in her wallet. She emptied out what was there and gave it to me. She sacrificed her cigarette money for me. True love. This reminds me of my favorite

definition of love: To want good for an- other and be willing to do what it takes to make it happen. My mother wanted only good for me, and she was willing to sacrifice her addictive habit for me.

This week’s Gospel is chock-full of stories of people sacrificing for prized things. The shepherd spares nothing to find the lost sheep; the woman who loses a coin cleans her whole house until she finds it; and the father of the prodigal son sacrifices what he knows is best for his child to allow him to find out for himself that all he ever needed was in the arms of the father.

A priest at my parish often says that you know how much you love by how much you sacrifice. Every time we sacrifice for another, we reveal our love for that person. Not many of us will need to lay our lives down to demon- strate our love, but we might sometime need to forego money or even our favorite indulgence. It is not the size of the gesture but the heart behind the action that reveals the depth of the sacrifice.

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