He was the only chaplain to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Though Joseph O’Callahan loved teaching at Holy Cross College, he felt the need to enlist. World War II was raging. He thought his calling could better be exhausted by helping those who were fighting.
Four years later, he found himself on the aircraft carrier, the USS Franklin, when a Japanese plane suddenly appeared and dropped two 500 pound bombs. Flames erupted.
As the captain watched the flames creep closer to two enclosed gun turrets, he saw the padre moving through the flames with a fire hose. O’Callahan calmed others, and even helped defuse bombs.
The ship was eventually saved. On May 17, 1945, in the Brooklyn Navy Ship Yard, awards were presented. As O’Callahan’s mother came aboard, she was met by Les Gehres, the captain, who said, “I’m not a religious man. But I watched your son that day and I thought if faith can do this for a man, there must be something to it.”
What better person to talk about laying down one’s life for others than the person who actually did. Thousands followed Jesus. Laying down his life for them—his friends, was honorable. But what about those who despised, abused, ridiculed, and tried to kill him. Could he lay down his life for them with the same ease?
As it did with Father O’Callahan and Jesus, love demands action. If I only love in word, few will benefit. True love for others requires that I do something…anything.
Jesus calls the ultimate expression evangelism. I don’t have to berate others with Bible verses or be obnoxious in other ways. I can simply demonstrate the love of Jesus in kind actions.
Making Jesus a normal part of my daily conversations also helps me obey Jesus’ command. I don’t have to be a Bible scholar…just a Jesus talker. In numerous simple ways, I can lay down my life for others.
Choose one way you give of yourself to someone.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, move us to lay down our lives for others even as You did yours for us.
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