Yesterday, my wife and I and our two adult sons had just finished our Thanksgiving dinner, except for dessert. My wife went to the living room to get something, and heard a knock at the door. She peered through the curtain and saw a dark figure, dressed in black. She did not immediately open the door, and the figure began to leave. She then decided to open the door after all. When she did this, the figure (a man) said, “Mrs. Zarechnak?” My wife was surprised that he knew our last name. And then the man added, “Is Alex (our youngest son) home?” My wife then called Alex to verify that he knew this man. As it turned out, it was an old friend of Alex’s from a drug rehabilitation program, whom he last saw more than 20 years ago (we knew him).
He was invited in. It turned out that he was on disability, was unemployed, and living with his mother. He looked awful. My wife offered him food, but he said that he had already had Thanksgiving dinner with an uncle. He did, however, accept the offer of dessert. As he spoke nervously about various subjects, I kept thinking about how we should always be prepared to care for the unexpected individuals that come our way. I was thinking specifically about the parable of the Good Samaritan, since I had just translated a Russian meditation on that subject for our parish website, and I would like to share that meditation with you:
"In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we first see two people who were considered pious – a priest and a Levite; both, seeing a poor traveler, wounded, robbed by bandits, calmly pass by him. And for us it is clear that these people do not love their neighbor as themselves.
"However, the priest and the Levite actually did not harm that man in any way. They did not hit him, did not rob him, but simply, looking at him, hurried on. And that’s not a sin, you will say. The real guilty ones were the robbers, who so cruelly treated this man, injuring him, robbing him and leaving him along the way. The priest and the Levite were not involved in this evil deed in any way. No, but they sinned against the law of love by not helping their neighbor.
"We are not used to accusing ourselves of something we did not do. We, of course, repent when we happen to hurt another. But it is unlikely that we reproach ourselves for missing the opportunity to do good, to provide the help that is in our power. There is no doubt, however, that we commit a great sin by not providing our neighbor with the love and goodness that depended on us.
We will answer for every opportunity we missed, whether by negligence, lack of attention, laziness or egotism. This opportunity will not return, and we should have used it. It was sent to us by God Himself.
“Along the way of life at every turn we meet wounded, dispossessed brothers and sisters abandoned without help. Who are we going to be for them? – the priest, the Levite or the good Samaritan?”
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)