Out of many tragedies come instances of heroism and sacrifice, and the carnage at Virginia Tech had one such example, all the more poignant because of the man’s personal history.
As Cho Seung-Hui made his way through Norris Hall, shooting anyone he came in contact with, he came to the classroom of Liviu Librescu, a 76 year old Holocaust survivor, who was a lecturer in engineering and mechanics. Professor Librescu threw himself in front of the door to the classroom, while his students escaped out the windows. Though he was shot to death through the door he blocked, all of his students escaped and lived because of his sacrifice.
During our Lenten meditation, we talked about Godly love (agape/αγαπη), which is the form of love driven by choices, not emotions. Jesus, the Son, chose to make the sacrifice he made upon the cross. Likewise, professor Librescu chose to make his sacrifice, stepping into harms way, giving his life that his students might live. It was a transcendent moment, one in which the essence of a life is summed up, weighed in the balance and passes the final test.
It is moments like this that transcend standard theology for me. Yes, we have our understanding of the nature of salvation and requirements involved, and yes, they are normative. But, there are rare moments, the thief on the cross by way of example, that demonstrate that God sometimes chooses to act outside our neat categories of understanding. If, as Jesus said, there is no greater love than what Professor Librescu did, then I believe that love will bear him before the seat of Christ, where I suspect his choice will be validated by another. As Peter reminded us (1 Peter 4:8b), love covers a multitude of sins, and this was the greatest expression of love that is possible.
So Professor Librescu, I honor your choice with a prayer and a hope that you now rest in the bosom of Christ. May all of the choices of my life, from this point forward, be as complete and loving as your final choice and may you be there to greet me on the day I make the same journey. Godspeed Liviu, Godspeed.