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Good Friday comes to all of us. The question is, “What are we willing to die for?”
Gino Bartali was Europe’s most famous athlete of the 1930’s and an Italian personality at that. With his winnings from the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France and other races, the hero-cyclist bought an apartment in Florence.
In short, he had everything to live for.
But Italian dictator and Hitler-ally Benito Mussolini would make Bartali and a myriad of Italians choose whether they would risk their lives or let their Jewish neighbors and acquaintances be killed or imprisoned.Mussolini even tried to get Bartali to use his victory as an endorsement for Italian superiority.
He refused. Instead, he turned that same apartment into a safe-house for Jews and turned to his first love in order to serve as a courier for the underground.
Under the guise of training, he smuggled forged papers, visas and passports in the frame of his bicycle and underneath his seat. Whenever stopped by authorities, he would use his superstar status to change the subject to cycling.
And he was only one of perhaps thousands whose underground work saved 80% of the Jews in Italy during World War II.
Literal wars may not come to us but love-wars occur every day. They offer us the ride of our lives.
Don’t stop pedaling.
PORTAL TO HEAVEN: It’s easy to say we will die for the right. But as Bartali said, "The good is done, but it is not said. And certain medals hang on the soul, not on the jacket.” Persecution or the prospect of it open up portals of love’s reward.
There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’” 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. "Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. "Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered. Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.”