Sacrifice

The first fact that flashed radiantly on his comprehension was the great impersonality of sacrifice—he perceived that what we call love and hate, reward and punishment, had no more to do with it than the date of the month. He quickly recapitulated the story of a sacrifice he had heard of in college: a man had cheated on an examination; his roommate in a gust of sentiment had taken the entire blame—due to the shame of it the innocent one’s entire future seemed shrouded in regret and failure, capped by the ingratitude of the real culprit. He had finally taken his own life—years afterward the facts had come out. At the time the story had both puzzled and worried Amory. Now he realized the truth; that sacrifice was no purchase of freedom. It was like a great elective office, it was like an inheritance of power—to certain people at certain times an essential luxury, carrying with it not a guarantee but a responsibility, not a security but an infinite risk. It’s very momentum might drag him down to ruin—the passing of the emotional wave that made it possible might leave the one who made it high and dry forever on an island of despair.

This Side of Paradise p. 175

Sacrifice done out of love in response to the great sacrifice of Christ does not end in despair, for it does not mind the response of the one sacrificed for; it thinks only of the one who sacrificed himself for us all. And thus there is no risk. 

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