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Hope for Schiavo on Good Friday

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, March 24, 2005

“I’m begging you, don’t let my daughter die of thirst.”This is exactly what is happening to Terri Schiavo – she is dying of thirst. And it is piercing her mother’s heart like a sword.On the cross, Jesus vocalized the words, “I thirst” (John 19:28). Yes, his thirsting was physical, but it was also spiritual. He thirsted for water and for souls, for a liquid and for love, for something to drink and for a people to accept him. Like Terri’s mother, the mother of Jesus probably said in her own heart, “I’m begging you, don’t let my son die of thirst.”Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta used those two words – “I thirst” – as a driving force behind her ministry. She knew she was quenching the thirst of Jesus as she quenched the various thirsts of others. Today, we find before us a woman slowly dying of thirst because her feeding tube was removed five days ago.I have the saddest feeling that Terri will die this Friday, on Good Friday. If so, she would die from the same hardness that caused Jesus’ death: our inabilities to see the beauty of this person and to recognize her true self.To me, it seems as though the question of Terri’s life really cannot be answered in medical or legal terms. Instead, this brings to light one of the key areas where religion helps to inform society. How can doctors, nurses, lawyers and judges determine when someone is, in their very essence and at their core, alive and when they are not? How can we, using medical and legal terms, define such a thing? Somehow, though, we have ruled that Terri Schiavo – the true Terri Schiavo – is dead, and what remains is an inanimate shadow of her. Because our society thinks that the real Terri is dead, we are willing to let this shadow die, too. In fact, we are willing to cause the death of this “shadow”.As it was with Golgotha, I find myself to be driving in the nails and hanging on the cross. I feel sadness and pain with Terri, while I know that I am part of the culture that is slowly drawing the life out of her. I am thirsting and causing the thirst. It is a tragic tension to find oneself both persecuting and being persecuted.I hope against hope that Terri will live, and that her feeding tube will be reinserted. I am praying for a miracle – maybe she will, somehow, find words to speak, or else our hardened hearts will softened. I thirst for Friday to come and go without Terri dying. maybe life in the stead of death will come on Good Friday.Wouldn’t that be something, if resurrection came before death? It is possible, you know. Only once did resurrection have to come after death.

Lenny DeLorenzoInstitute for Church LifeMarch 23