Friday, March 23, 2007

When to help your fellow man

It just gets harder as time goes on. It used to be, if you set your way-back machine, that it was almost uniformly considered a good thing to help out those less fortunate than yourself. Now we have constant pressures, constant worries that the person may be out to fleece you, or they may actually be planning to attack you, or they'll only buy booze or what have you. Now be honest, have you ever driven by someone on the side of the road who looked like they needed help but had a sudden "what if they're going to..." thought cross your mind and convince you to drive on? If you haven't, contact the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

For the rest of us, this article may just be a painful reminder of some of those times where our fear overtook our conscience. We all know we are called to help our fellow man - I think any Christian can quote almost by heart "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.(Mt 25:35-36)" But we also have ringing in our ears the news stories of people carjacked, people attacked by those posing as in need of help, of people being killed trying to do what is right. Then we look in the faces of our children and say "somehow you must come first". And then we undertake that mental balancing act of "do I protect the image of God in the children He entrusted to me, or do I help that image of Christ in the person who appears to need my help?" So what do you do?

I know I've all too often given in to the fear that the person may intend harm. But Christ also reminds us to "be not afraid". It is indeed a fine balancing act we have been called to, and a reminder that a life of prayer opens us to hearing God's will for us in even these things. And yes, at times, to listen to our Guardian Angel tell us when to move along.

H/T to Father Jonathan. Yes, that Father Jonathan. Forgiveness is a Christian trait as well.