I finally learned what it means to be a good Samaritan.
As an octenagarian, you would think that I knew a great deal.
Well, sadly, there is much more I need to learn as this
past Friday has taught me. But I'm grateful that I am
still learning - however hard the lessons may be.
As I was coming home from liturgy on the Friday after Thanksgiving,
I heard a woman crying. I saw her across the street, sitting
on a storefront stoop crying her eyes out. After my initial
surprise, I don't know what I thought, but I just stopped for
a moment, looked at her, and then continued home. Did I think
she was a scam artist? Maybe.
But later on, I felt terribly guilty. I was wrong to not at
least stop and inquire about her tears. And now of course, I could
not help but recall the parable of the Good Samaritan. All who
saw the distressed wounded man on the road, simply passed him by.
Not so the Good Samaritan who picked him up - took him to an inn,
bound his wounds, and paid for his stay until he was well.
How ashamed I am for not even just stopping to inquire about this
woman's tears. Why have I become so jaded in the face of suffering?
Well, I offer up no excuses, because there are none which will
exonerate me from my failing to address suffering. But some
explanations may shed some light on why maybe I passed her by
without stopping to address her needs.
During this past summer, I was approached by a woman in our shopping
center. She carried a pouch of money and she said she was trying
to find its owner. How silly I thought. She should hand it over
to the police or the shopping center. But then she gave me some
reasons why she didn't. Of course I was not impressed by them, and
then began to realize that this must be a pigeon drop scam. Some
time during her conversation with me and another woman she had
recruited -telling us how we could realize a portion of this money,
I simply told her that I was afraid when she asked about my committment
to her plan. She immediately cast her head down, and I walked away
feeling so free and happy -that even if this was legitimate, I didn't
want to take any part of s omebody's lost money. I passed the test.
To my knowledge the other woman did not.
Another sad remembrance about trusting people generally was my
willingness to lend money to 4 people in need. Somewhere in the Bible
it says -be not a borrower or a lender. Obviously, I either forgot
about this piece of wisdom or felt it should not always apply. At
any rate, I lent money to two handymen. One needed special boots for
his anticipated employment, and I felt he was trustworthy because his
uncle went to the same church as I did. I also found him likable,
and I even met his delightful 3 year -old daughter who he brought
along for a plumbing job because the baby sitter was not available.
The other was working to pay off his truck's repairs. I never
heard or saw from either of them again. No, I didn't even bother
calling them. They should be old enough and responsible enough
to pay off their debts. Obviously, they are not.
The next two con artists were a father and daughter. The father
rented my small apartment upstairs. Between them, I loaned $500
and never saw any of it again. You may think I'm foolish and you
may be right. But at the time, I saw need and addressed it.
But I did learn that I was absolutely wrong in not going across
the street and inquiring about the woman's tears. Maybe she was
looking for a soft touch and a hand-out. Even so, and though I had
no money on me, I would likely have told her to wait for me to go
home for some. I believe that it is always better to err on the side
of kindness rather than caution. Hopefully, her condition wasn't
hopeless, and that she got some help from someone who knew would it
meant to be a good samaritan.