Fifteenth Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C
Reflecting on Luke 10:25-37
The trouble with Luke’s magnificent story of love of neighbor is that you can’t take it too literally. After all, serial killers like Ted Bundy have found their victims by pretending to be crippled and in need of help to their car. Roadside warnings near detention centers send a chill up the spine: do not pick up hitchhikers.
But one scorching summer day in the Utah desert 30 years ago, some travelers driving by spotted a very thin young man resting on the ground next to his bike. Something wasn’t right. He looked gaunt and weak. They circled back and asked out the window Are you okay? But he was too weak to answer. And this dad and mom, with their two children in tow, leapt from their car, wiped his face with cool water, placed him and his bike in the car, carefully gave him food and water, and drove him to the rectory of the first Catholic Church they found.
The Spanish-speaking housekeeper cried Oh Dios! and directed them to take him into the cool back bedroom. She cared for him for several days until he recovered from his extreme heat stroke and dehydration.
Where are they now, that observant family that noticed that something didn’t seem quite right and took the time to circle back? Where are the tender housekeeper and kind priest who gave him shelter and comfort?
Because, as my 22nd wedding anniversary approaches, I want to be able to thank them for saving the life of the young man who, years later, would save mine.
Have you ever experienced life-saving help from a stranger?
What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).
What an amazing story Kathy! I never expected the ending and it gave me chills.
All the life-saving examples that come to my mind, were strangers, but it was their job to save lives. This certainly doesn’t dimish the incredible gift it was to our family. These people were drawn to a profession that would give them countless opportunities to save. I’m so thankful for all these miraculous moments of healing.
I can’t hardly consider my life without these grand life saving moments. I also can’t imagine my life without the little kindnesses I receive every day. Sometimes I might be having a bad day and a stranger kindly lets me have the right of way while driving or tells me I’ve left the trunk open. These random acts of kindness save me from my self-imposed gloom and I’m reminded to focus on the abundance of good in the world. Yes, so much good.
The thing I learned at a really young age is there are different types of love, and when I hear in a reading the LOVE OF GOD, I think of Father Corapi on EWTN. though I can’t for the life of me remember the word he uses that means the Love of God in Greek, yet it made a impression on me that set the wheels that started turning toward my reconversion to the Catholic Faith,after a twenty year lapse into a dark and distant journey of Godlessness. When at the end of that journey I realized that everything I had always wanted was within the Catholic Faith. True understanding, true love and hope, were in the Lord’s loving arms waiting for me. I have always been loved by Him though I have not always been loving toward Him or His childern. My priest has spent many hours since my return trying to teach me the difference between loving and caring from enabling , this I at a young age. I alway thought that to see a negative situation in the actions and values of others, was being judgemental, and the Lord warned us about judging others. Father has taught me that being Prudent is important also. There’s acts of caring like Kathy spoke of in her sharing this week where a family gave help and saved a life, and then there are the ruthless people who take advantage of the Good Samaritans in life. I guess I have learned that I love the the saint and the sinner,I just don’t do the usual thing for me, I don’t allow the the sinner to use me to sin. And I pray for their conversion just like I’m sure that many people prayed for me to come home to this amazing Faith. Sometimes prayer is the kindest act of loving we can offer. Isn’t it
YOUR STORY WAS AN AMAZING AND TOUCHING STORY
Forty years ago I had a flat tire driving on a busy street. I had been on my way to pick up medicine to keep from miscarrying my five month old baby in utero. I pulled the spare out to the side of the car, and waited, hoping that someone would stop to help me. I was obviously pregnant. It was 10:00pm, and nobody stopped. I was pulling the jack out when someone walked up behind me. He was a worn looking Mexican man. He said that he had seen me from a phone booth two blocks away, and had walked over to see if he could help. I offered to pay him when he finished. He smiled and said, “No,no,no,que Dios la bendiga.”
I did purchase the medicine, my child was born, and has been the greatest blessing to me and to many.
I, too, have a policy of not picking up hitchhikers. How surprised I was, then, to attempt to drive past a man on the side of the road and have him jump in front of me. Western Nebraska is another desolate part of the country, and apparently many had driven past him. As it turns out, he was a missionary, with a flat tire, trying to get to his next stop. What courage he had, to jump in front of me to get me to stop so I would take him and his flat tire to the next town for repair.
Perhaps it just takes years of living and life experiences; or, maybe I’m just terribly slow to reflect; or, maybe I’ve been too long in survival mode….moving at a great pace, semi-conscious of all the goodness that has come my way. I think…I want to believe…that I’ve never taken the occurrences in my life for granted. But, as I think about the MANY blessings that have come to me throughout my life; I think, ” I could not have survived all these many years had it not been for the hundreds of kindnesses that have been given to me throughout my life.” Some incidents that might be considered so small…hardly noteworthy…yet loom in my mind as huge events because they were gifts of mercy. I loved what Father Pat had to say this morning about the difference in forgiveness and mercy. I am quite certain that I’ve not always been loveable. In my younger years…I think that my “unsureness” might have come across as being flip or arrogant. Yet there were many…some faces and names now gone from memory….who reached out to me; who didn’t bother with whether I was living according to “their” rules; or attempting to figure out whether I was suitable to be helped; but, those who showed mercy and kindness. Each hand, each smile, each word of encouragement
helped me in my journey to becoming a better, more whole human being. Thank you to those in my past and to those in my present who accept me, care for me…. because of and in spite of my many flaws. The gift of kindness…the gift of mercy….thank goodness! I am not burdened with “forgiveness”!!
When I was in college the older brother of one of my friends picked up a hitchhiker, and was murdered. I had sometimes picked up hitchhikers and the story gave me pause. However, I can’t forget the words of our drawing teacher, Sister Ann, in regards to the murder. She said, the kindness of this young man was what should be remembered. She said that being kind is a risk, and she believed that fear should not prevent us for reaching out to help others. Otherwise the world is a very cold and isolating place.
Reaching out to others IS a risk. We can look foolish, it might cost us some money or time. Yes we need to be aware of dangers. I myself am better for the witness of that young man so long ago.
What a beautiful story and poignant reminder that when we are blinded from our neighborly unity, the only true stranger is us. Going through each and every day aspiring to meet/treat all beings as though they were long-term friends never fails to throw the ego on its side. Thank you, all my “neighbor friends,” for thus being teachers of Love and challenging me to see beyond the suffering of my ignorance.
How many stories there are of lost opportunities for me….
About 8 years ago I worked with an emancipated teenage girl who came back from lunch and asked, “Guess what I did during lunch today.” My imagination was stuck and I found myself thinking of things like “bought a new pair of jeans, walked in the park?” I don’t know why I was surprised when she said, “I took a homeless man to lunch.” What a challenge…what a gift to me. I was intrigued by her daring and her charity, by her willingness to see beyond the appearance of the man on the street.
Six years later I drove past a man whose cardboard sign asked for money. There are always questions that run around in my mind about what will happen to the money that I pass on, though I must admit, once given away is no longer my responsibility. I circled around thinking about how it would be a great opportunity to invite him to lunch. Then the excuses surfaced. “Does your budget let you buy two lunches this week? You have plenty of food in the fridge. Do you want it to go to waste? Do you have time to stop and chat? Would it be safe?” Sad to say, I drove past him. My conscience nagged at me because this was opportunity knocking. So I decided on a compromise. I circled around and stopped to buy him a steak burrito and a cold drink. I took the same route to lead me where he stood, opened the car window and with a smile, handed him the meal. He graciously thanked me, sending me off with a lot of blessings. I went home to eat my leftovers alone and of course, I was safe. I never saw the man again and I often wonder what the encounter would have taught me if I were willing to actually sit with him and listen to his story. Sometimes buying two lunches might mean discovering something new about what it means to be human and created in God’s image. Sometimes being safe means losing out.