What Makes a Hero

I’ve been thinking a lot about some of my heroes: Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty. During World War II, the Monsignor was in Rome and, on his own, began to serve and save the allied soldiers and Jews in the area. Through the Nazi occupation of Rome, with his very life on the line, he led a committee that  protected, fed and clothed more than 4,000 people in and around Rome. When the Allies retook Rome, he even aided the German SS Colonel’s family to escape rather than be killed by the mobs.

Another of my heroes is Sergent Alvin York from the First World War. He thought war was crazy, but when he saw the live being lost on both sides, he took action to end the conflict in the area. Saving his own men, he took 132 German soldier captive almost single handedly, killing only 24. With few men, he marched the new captives to POW camps. He said, “I went there to make peace.” Who knows how many men on both sides had been saved because of his courage.

Both these men showed great courage during the times of war. They were willing to give everything they had, even their lives to serve those they knew and many they didn’t know. They showed compassion to their enemies. They helped those in need. They had the courage to do what was right even though it was difficult or well-nigh impossible. These are the qualities of a hero.

Yet, there is one who has every quality of a perfect hero. All the others are only great because they have qualities which mirror our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It was He who did all things for us. His lived  for us. He helped those who were ill, hungry, or distressed. He taught others to do the same. He suffered all alone for us. He had compassion on His enemies. He died for us. And He rose from the dead for us.

We alone cannot make up for the errors we make during our life, leaving us unclean before our Maker. He conquered that which we cannot conquer ourselves and offered Himself, freely, as the ransom for our souls. If we will just follow Him, do as He asks us, serve each other, and turn to Him at all times, He will be the one who Saves. The Great Hero.

“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”         – Moses 1:39


Brought Me Low

I fell down the stairs last night at a dinner appointment. The stairs look just like any other set of stairs though they had a fuzzy carpet over the top. I will never forget, the 14 year old son asked, “What’s up?” and I went down. Thankfully, it was only about 5 stairs. It still hurt.

My biggest problem was my long-standing no-slip streak. I hadn’t fallen in years. I’d never fallen on my mission. I was proud of my balance and luck. I just don’t fall. All it took was one carpeted step that (I found out later) was a few inches narrower than normal stairs, and my pride hurt almost as much as my hip and elbow. I laughed about it. What else could I do when I’m sprawled at the bottom of a set of stairs with my mouth open?

I couldn’t help but remember the line from the Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration movie. One of the saints, very sick during the few summer at Nauvoo, tells Joseph “My pride has brought me very low.” Joseph responds, “Now the Lord can lift you higher.” Sliding to the bottom of the stairs, I had been humbled.

The Lord gives us many ways to remind us that we are not perfect whether it’s ill health, falling down a flight of stairs, spilling a glass of milk, forgetting my chapstick for the millionth time, or tripping over my tongue. We all need the Savior and His power to bring us above the normal capacities of life. None of us are perfect without Him.

The daily reminders should help us realize what we can do and what we can’t do, so we will turn to Him with full purpose and let Him heal us. When He lived on the earth, He went about healing the people of all their infirmities. He healed bodies, minds, hearts, and, most importantly, souls. When we stripe ourselves of pride, we are finally open to the touch of the Master Healer.

“. . . and he healed them all”