A friend of mine and his new wife decided to spend their honeymoon camping out. I heard this story from him after all the events had occurred. He said, “Our first night out I cut up the branches of a tree to make a shelter for our campsite. We had a quiet evening but were awakened in the morning by a horrible roar.
“When I stepped out of the tent there was a demon standing there. I asked the demon what he wanted and he said, ‘You have ruined my sacred fruit tree. I am going to eat your heart and drink your blood.’ We explained why we were there and asked him to forgive us but he refused. We asked him if there were some other way we could satisfy his anger or give him something to take the place of my heart and blood. The demon thought for awhile and then said, ‘If you return in one week with a male child of some member of your family, who is willing to take your place and whose parents come with him and agree that he may take your place, I will have the child’s heart and blood in place of yours and you may go free. But if you do not all appear in one week I will come after your entire family. Now go. I will be waiting to see you here next week.’
“We went home and didn’t know what to do. My parents met with our entire family and their children and offered to give anyone whose child would take my place a large amount of money and a new home.
“No parent seemed interested but one seven-year-old boy jumped up and said he would be happy to take my place. His parents started to yell at him for wanting to do such a crazy thing. My parents quieted everyone down and then the boy spoke to his parents and told them why he wanted to perform this act. When he was done they all agreed that he take my place.
“A week later, we all went back to the campsite. The demon stepped out of the forest and gave me a sword to kill the boy with. His parents held his arms and legs and as I raised the sword the boy said his last prayer and then burst into joyful laughter. We were all stunned by his prayer and laughter. We dropped to our knees and put our palms together in an attitude of prayer. The demon stopped too and looked in amazement at the laughing boy’s face.
The young man’s statement to his parents after their initial shock and reaction that he had gone mad was this. “I have not gone mad. Consider this, sooner or later my body will perish at any rate but if it perishes without love, which the wise declare is the only thing of permanence, of what use will it have been? What greater love can there be then the salvation of all beings? Surely the demon will destroy us all if I do not offer myself. What better fruit can my body reap then the love of this act?”
When the threat of death was before him he uttered to himself this last prayer. “Let whatever love I may acquire by this sacrifice not gain for me heaven or any other salvation that cannot benefit others. Instead, let me be born again on the wheel of rebirth so that again and again this body may be offered for the benefit of others.”
The demon licked his lips. The parents held his arms and legs and my friend lifted the sword. Then the child laughed so loudly that all there abandoned what they were about and, putting their palms together in an attitude of prayer, gazed in astonishment at the boy’s face.
His attitude is not different from Christ’s. This child knew what love could create and obliterate.
Bernie Siegel 2011