Pathways through Lent

Weekday reflections from St. John’s in the season of Lent.

Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent: March 6, 2024

Who is a Stranger?

They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?” He will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.” (Matthew 25:44-45)

One summer some years ago, our family was driving in our station wagon to visit an old friend who lived in a small town west of Austin, Texas. We were half a dozen miles from our destination when a radiator hose split, and great clouds of steam billowed up from under the hood. We pulled over onto the shoulder and, since these were pre-cellphone days, wondered how we could get word to our friend.

Not a minute later, however, a pickup truck had pulled up behind us; and a burly man with a scruffy beard hopped out and asked what he could do to help. We told him our story. He was a local and knew where our friend lived, offered to take Joanne and the girls there, and call for a tow truck while I stayed with the car. Needless to say, we all survived the mishap.

I’ve never forgotten that simple kindness by and to a stranger. Yet, I have often passed up the opportunity to replicate it, as I drive past vehicles stalled on the side of the road. Justifications are easy and legion. I’m going too fast to stop safely. The traffic makes pulling over a risk. It may not be safe; they look sketchy. I have an appointment to keep. The driver has everything under control. It’s not my problem; someone else will help. Better just keep on going.

And yet, isn’t it also our problem? If we want to live in a better world, doesn’t that call for reaching out to people in need? If the shoe were on the other foot, we would (and did) welcome the help. When Jesus told us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, note the verb he uses. It’s “do.” What counts are actions, not intentions. Deeds, not thoughts.

Do our actions pass the test?

Powell Hutton
Pathways Contributor

Links to the appointed readings for today: