© SDI Productions – Getty Images

DEAR friend, I have known Daniela and Renato for a very long time. She is a lawyer and he is a registered nurse. They got married twelve years ago, have three children, live a quiet family life and have no major family problems.

One day, Daniela met a man whose case was more dramatic than usual. He had been arrested and this meant that his wife and children would be expelled from Italy. Their only crime was that they were foreign immigrants. Daniela thus turned from a lawyer into a social worker and started to look for a solution for the two children. Eventually, after a series of misunderstandings, the only possible option seemed to be to entrust the children to a foster family.

Daniela mentioned this to her husband. They looked into each other’s eyes and immediately realized that their family had grown by two members.

This story is not from a book of fairy tales. It is true, but like any good tale it also has a moral to teach us. In fact, it has two.

Firstly, committing a crime not only involves the perpetrator and the victim, but also concerns all those people connected to both of them. When the public is informed of a particular criminal case, they are usually concerned about the person who committed the crime and the victim. Rarely does it pay attention to those who are close to them, who have ties of affection with both of them, and who therefore become innocent and often forgotten victims.

Secondly, encounters that produce real change do not take place in a planned and highly conditioned environment, but in one that is always open to grasping God’s moment. When the encounter occurs, it must find the person’s mind and heart free of distractions and defenses, like those of the man in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

In 1973, researchers from Princeton University created an experiment to investigate factors that inhibit altruistic behavior. A group of young seminarians were read the parable of the Good Samaritan, and then asked for their opinion. All of them were positive and full of enthusiasm, because that parable was exemplary of the spirit that should animate every good Christian. They were then told that it was getting late, and that they had to hurry to another building nearby where there would be another lecture.

On the way to the next building, there was an actor impersonating an injured man groaning in pain and calling for help. None of the students stopped, except one: a student who had missed class and happened to be passing by.

I am sure that the young seminarians were all good people, but unfortunately they got caught up in the rush to complete their task and missed the opportunity to be a true ‘Good Samaritan’.

We are all easily distracted by a sense of urgency in life, and therefore we very often fail to seize the moment to do good deeds, the moment that enables us to reach out to others and build a civilization of love.

In the Lenten season that is about to begin, let us leave aside the haste that all too often characterizes most of our days, and instead let us find time to listen to Our Lord. Surely he will make us understand where and how we can help people in difficulty and, above all, he will enable us to get out of all those situations that affect us in a negative way. We have forty days to rise with Christ to a new life. Let us not waste them!

© SDI Productions – Getty Images

Updated on January 31 2023