We have all heard the story of a good Samaritan, but how many of us have lived it? I had the opportunity recently when a Michigan pothole flattened my tire. The roadside assistance dispatcher told me a tow truck was at least an hour wait. That’s when a vehicle pulled up behind me. A gentleman got out, took a look at the situation, and offered to put the spare on. While I watched his back for traffic, he made quick work of the job. When I offered him money, he declined to take it. I insisted.
Doing a good deed takes on greater significance this time of year, when the holiday season reminds us to think of others. But is that what prompts someone to pull over on a busy freeway to help a complete stranger? How many of us would have done the same?
As we race to keep up with holiday gatherings, decorating, shopping and year-end work projects, my tire mishap makes me think more about the parable of the good Samaritan. As told in the Gospel of Luke, a stricken traveler is found along the roadside. After being first ignored by fellow Jewish travelers, a Samaritan stops to aid the man. Even though Samaritans were enemies of Jews in ancient times, the point of the story is to demonstrate that despite differences, a true neighbor shows compassion and mercy.
That’s something I will be thinking of on Dec. 21, the winter solstice and the longest night of the year. The Pope Francis Center, one of our partners, will mark this occasion with the Homeless Persons’ Memorial. Fr. Tim McCabe, SJ, who leads the Pope Francis Center, convenes this moving event every year to honor the lives of Detroiters who died without a place to call home. Photos of the individuals being honored are featured on the altar of Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church in Detroit. As Fr. Tim reads their names, a candle is lit in their memory.
Whatever religion you follow or spirituality you celebrate, it is easy to get caught up in the things that set us apart. My plan before this month is done will be to find a quiet moment and reflect on how differences can be strengths. How even though we may not agree on the path, we believe in the destination. That’s why I formed The Vella Group almost three years ago — to find ways of bringing people together to make a difference in forging a better world.
I wish you peace and joy however you plan to celebrate this holiday season. And for those of you who are Detroit Lions fans, join me in adding some Honolulu blue lights to your decorations.