But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:29-37
It was a long day as I left the Project Homeless Connect event at the Civic Center. Over 450 homeless people had received help during the course of the day, and we all felt gratified that we had done something to help.
As I walked to my car parked several blocks away from the event, I noticed a man leaning against a trash container, obviously looking disheveled. You could tell at a glance that he had been on the street a while, but I didn’t recognize him from the event. As I walked and observed, I noticed several people crossing the street to avoid him.
On the other side of the street, there appeared to be a lost dog and many of the people that had avoided the homeless man were gathering around the lost puppy.
It thought of the parable of the Samaritan in Luke’s gospel. Both the priest and the Levite crossed the road to avoid the traveler that had been beaten and left for death.
As I walked toward the man, a young woman, neatly dressed approached him and asked if he needed help. By then, I was near enough to ask if he had been to Project Homeless Connect.
He said, “No.” He was unaware that the event had happened just a couple of blocks away. Knowing that there was food left over from the day, the young woman, whose name was Debbie and I walked him to the Civic Center where we got him something to eat and introduced him to a shelter director who volunteered to help him find a place to sleep.
As I walked away, I turned to Debbie and said, “Thank you for caring.” I could tell by the look in her eyes as she fought back tears, that this was a loving, caring person. She was a modern day Good Samaritan.
As I began my drive home, a report on the radio caught my attention. The newscaster said, “The pet business has become an 8 billion dollar industry.”
Pet spas, pet parks, pet designer clothing, and gourmet dog food have become commonplace.
“Eight Billion dollars,” I thought. And this man can’t get a meal, shelter, or even be noticed by the people who walked by him to come to the aid of a lost dog. Not that I have nothing against dogs and cats, but this person is a human being.
Project Homeless Connect was cancelled this year for lack of funding. And, I know that the pet industry has probably grown by another billion dollars. It is sad, because now while Fido is getting a massage at the doggie spa, the homeless will have to rely on Samaritans like Debbie for their survival.