The happy Samaritan
It was a rainy morning and I was heaving and weaving between buildings to get to the office on time. Clickety-clack went my heels upon the cement and concrete, until, there it was; my purple-tinged building looming less than a hundred meters from me. I paused for the red light, and out of nowhere weather, it started to rain. Big, fat, persistent, teasing drops of rain. S-T-R-A-N-D-E-D. So near yet so far.
I was weighing my options and showing up for work looking like a sad goldfish was not the way to go. I ruffled through my bag while glancing up to see if I knew anyone who I could share an umbrella with. None. I was just starting to panic when I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. My gaze followed the arm and I saw that it belonged to a smiling, middle-aged lady. “Would you like to share?” she said, tilting her head towards her umbrella. Oh, would I? And we did, and after a minute or two, my Good Samaritan left as quickly as she came.
The gospel on the Good Samaritan for today, is, may I say, a classic. It has been quoted and referred to so many times that the Samaritan’s unconditional kindness towards a stranger, has almost been the benchmark on How to Be a Human Being.
Fr. James Martin, SJ, in his book “Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life”. He espouses something very simple that enables us to be Good Samaritans quickly and effectively. He suggests joy, humor and laughter. (The ‘laughter’ part comes most naturally to Cebuanos, like breathing.) Being joyful, especially in the midst of dark and dreary times, is exactly what OTHER people need to see. When they see a person who they know is going through one of life’s challenges and turbulence, and in spite of that, is peaceful and smiling – their soul becomes uplifted. The Joyful One becomes a witness to the tenet that, at the end, “all will be well”. The storm will pass.
The state of being joyful also gives birth to something that is equally soothing and infectious. Being joyful increases the risk of being grateful. The most joyful people are the ones who recognize the daily drops of blessings that they receive. They are happy for the small and big things alike.
On a broader scale, being joyful and grateful seems to be the opposite of what the media and the world is calling us to be. I was talking to a male friend of mine who was trying to find The One and his search kept getting interrupted. He kept getting the message that he needed to earn more, get more branded things on his arm and acquire, take and keep. The Material Girl is no longer a Madonna ditty but a real identity out there. (I fear for my brothers as I write this.)
So there it is, dear reader. My (ehem) humble invitation for the month. Be joyful. Be grateful. That sweet smile and calm silence of yours may be just what your neighbor needs to believe that good things are just round this bumpy corner. Your “Thank you” and “Salamat, Lord” may be just what your friend or acquaintance needs to hear to try it for themselves.
It doesn’t take much, but it may mean the world for others.
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