Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I am sure our own family’s struggles are small. Last Friday as I left the grocery store, I saw an old man holding the hands of two toddlers—one looked to be 2 ½ years old and the other looked to be 1 ½ years old and they both had big smiles. The boys were tugging on the old man’s hand trying to get him to move faster. They had no clothes on and no shoes on and they were walking on very hot asphalt, and they both had on natty old diapers that looked like they had been wearing for two days. I immediately thought. I need to drop these groceries, pick up these little boys, and take them inside the store to spare their feet. I thought, “I need to ask the man if he needed me to buy clothes, shoes and diapers for them.” My arms were full of groceries, milk, eggs, fruit. I had very little time drive home put my groceries in the fridge and drive to the other side of town to meet Andrew for an important meeting, and I was already running late. I passed on by, and thought surely someone else will feel as I and help this man. I went on about my business.

OF COURSE, I felt horrible leaving them behind. As soon as I reached Andrew I told him what I had seen. Andrew told me I had done a bad thing. I said, “I know.” Andrew would have stopped. He would have simply apologized to me for being late and said that it was important to help these people. And I would have forgiven him recognizing the importance of his good act.

For the next day or so, the scene replayed in my mind over and over. I knew I had done wrong. I confessed, but I have yet to perform my penance. In my head, I think I have made my penance grander than intended. Perhaps no one else stepped up to help the man and boys. And in this day and age it is likely no one did. It was I who was supposed to step up and I passed them by.

I am sure my troubles are small. In fact, I am sure that they are not large enough, because those who suffer greatly also have much empathy and often give a lot. Don’t be like me! Don’t let my shame be your shame as well. Stop next time you see someone who looks like they need help. No matter what you are doing, no errand, or jug of milk, is so important to not help a fellow human in need. . “'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” (Matthew 25:40).

1 comment:

Michelle M. said...

It is significant that you were able to recognize the need for repentance. We are not perfect and blessed with a God who knows this and forgives us our sins. I honestly can't say that I would have done anything different from what you did. May God have mercy on us all.