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Created In The Image Of God - Why Are We Here? (Hint: It's not about
God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness." Genesis 1:26
M * A * S * H - (Season 9, Episode 18: Blood Brothers directed by Harry Morgan - original air date April 6, 1981 - rebroadcast on Hallmark Channel at 4:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. CST on Monday, February 13, 2006) - Thanks to IMDb.com for episode and cast information.
The Setting: Col. Sherman T. Potter (Harry Morgan) has informed Father Francis J. Mulcahy (William Christopher) "person to parson" that Cardinal Reardon (Ray Middleton) will visit MASH 4077 in two days. Father Mulcahy has been trying to get others to put on a front to impress the Cardinal. The priest is concerned that he will not have enough time to prepare an impressive sermon for Sunday service. Meanwhile Pvt. Gary Sturgis (Patrick Swayze) has a broken arm and is very concerned about his buddy, Dennis Lowry (Dennis Troy), who is very ill with a high temperature, infection and internal bleeding. Pvt. Sturgis wants to give his own blood for Denny.
Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce (Alan Alda) has tested Pvt. Sturgis' blood and found that he has leukemia and will be unable to donate his blood to Denny. Being very uncomfortable presenting the news to Pvt. Sturgis, Hawkeye takes some time deciding what to do. The nurses take several extra blood samples from Gary for Hawkeye to do more tests to verify his findings. Hawkeye makes arrangements for Gary to go to Tokyo for specialized treatment. When Hawkeye finally tells Gary about his condition and the plans to send him to Tokyo, Gary has the expected reaction of shock facing his own impending death. Pvt. Sturgis knows that there is no known cure for leukemia and that going to Tokyo will not change the final outcome. He wants to stay at the 4077 for his buddy. As a doctor, Hawkeye also knows there is little hope for Gary, but with false hope, he still wants to Gary to go. Father Mulcahy learns of Gary's sad news and chooses to spend time with Gary.
Fast forward to the next morning, Sunday: The Cardinal, in his vestments, is in the mess hall with the many soldiers of the 4077, all waiting for the Sunday service to begin. Father Mulcahy is not present. Col. Potter sends Cpl. Maxwell "Max" Q. Klinger (Jamie Farr) to look for the priest. In post-op, Hawkeye has again talked with Gary about the plans to send him to Tokyo. Gary resists, saying that he knows that a few days will make no difference for him, but that his presence at the 4077 and his encouragement will make a big difference for his buddy, Denny. Hawkeye still insists. Father Mulcahy takes Hawkeye to the side and convinces him to let Gary stay at the 4077. Klinger comes in and finds the good Father in post-op. Father Mulcahy had been totally absorbed in his ministry to Gary and lost track of time, even forgetting that the Cardinal was there and having not prepared his sermon.
Scene change: Klinger walks into the mess hall with Father Mulcahy, who is still in his bathrobe. Col. Potter is at the podium, and yields to the priest. Father Mulcahy begins:
"Good morning. Well, here we are. It's Sunday again. I'm sure you've all come expecting to hear a sermon. Well, I have to admit I'm not as prepared as I'd like to be. I'm not even dressed as I'd like to be. I was working on my sermon, which I'd hoped would be particularly inspirational in honor of Cardinal Reardon. But I was called away. Well, to be honest, I never got back to it. If you'll just bear with me, I'd like to share with you the reason why.
"I want to tell you about two men, each facing his own crisis. The first man you know rather well. The second is a patient here. Well, the first man thought he was facing a crisis, but what he was really doing was trying to impress someone. He was looking for recognition - encouragement - a pat on the back. Whenever that recognition seemed threatened he reacted rather childishly - blamed everyone for his problems but himself - because he was thinking only of himself.
"But the second man was confronted with the greatest crisis mortal man can face - the loss of his life. I think you'll agree *that* the second man had every right to be selfish; but instead he chose not to think of himself, but of a brother - a brother. And when the first man saw the dignity and the selflessness of the second man, he realized how petty and selfish he - I - I - I had been that made me see something more clearly than I've ever seen it before.
"God didn't put us here for that pat on the back; He created us so He could be here Himself - so that He could exist in the lives of those He created in His image."
This is a solid performance by William Christopher as Father Mulcahy. He finds out that a Cardinal is coming. It drives him into an absolute tizzy with fear that all those around him will let him down. He goes around like a whirling dervish criticizing everyone. While he is in this state, two young men are in danger. One has been badly wounded and is barely hanging on. The other is waiting for him to wake up. His injuries are menial and so he spends his time at the side of his comrade. However, when he volunteers blood, Hawkeye realizes that this man (played very well by a very young Patrick Swayze) has leukemia. In the early fifties, this was pretty much a death sentence. No treatments available. What transpires is so sad and so full of the human spirit. The "sermon" delivered by Mulcahy is unforgettable.
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