The Good Homeless Man

In January of this year, a wealthy, elderly man was out for a walk one night in Paris, as he did every night. He had a dizzy spell and fell to the ground. The street was busy, but no one stopped to check on him. Maybe you read about his story last month.

It reminded me of an old story that I’ve heard a hundred times that could use a little update…

An injured man was lying on the side of the road. A priest saw him and crossed to the other side. A couple out on a date saw him and crossed to the other side. A family, on their way home from a sporting event saw him and crossed to the other side. A woman out for a jog… a man walking his dog… a Bible study teacher… conservative… a liberal… a progressive… all crossed to the other side.

Nine hours later, a homeless man saw him and called for help. But it was too late, the man died, not of his injuries, but from hypothermia. It was the cold that killed him.

Like his friend who eulogized him, I am not certain that I would have stopped. I might have been in a hurry or afraid, or perhaps the sight of a man lying on the sidewalk is commonplace enough that I would have made assumptions, determine that it was none of business, and crossed to the other side.

Only one recognized the humanity in the man lying on the side of the road and took on his suffering as his business. This is what it means to do justice, have mercy, and walk humbly with God. This is what it means to love our neighbors.

This is the way of Jesus.

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