One of the hallmarks of what I will call relentless holiness is the drive and desire to go steps beyond the convenient, obvious, and practical. Thus, we often heard how Padre Pio advised his flock to pray many decades of the Rosary daily instead of the perfunctory single decade. It is with this spirit that I suggest we revisit the famous story of the Good Samaritan ( Lk 10:25-37 ).
We are All Travelers
The victim in this famous parable is a traveler who has been robbed and lies beaten on the side of the road. I do not know about you, but I have not come across any beaten and robbed folks sprawled across the sidewalk lately. We would like to believe that most, if not all, of us would try to help such an unfortunate person in some way. One would like to think that we would prove those cynics who believe that technology does not help us be better people wrong by using our cell phones to call for help.
This all reminds me of speaking about the Fifth Commandment to Fourth Graders in Catechism class. Left at face value, there would be nothing to talk about since these children are not usually involved in murder. However, one can tell them that mocking, gossiping, criticizing, and isolating people for sport murders their spirit and well-being and can kill their chances of overcoming adversity. In the same way, let us consider that we come across many unfortunate travelers on our daily journey who are prime candidates for some Christ-like assistance. Ultimately, we are all travelers on our journey through life and, hopefully, toward God. If we fancy ourselves true followers of Christ, we will see many opportunities to be Good Samaritans helping those struggling around us.
A Tale of Two Real Estate Professionals
A famous line in the real estate industry is the value of location, location, location. Given this mantra, we may ask where our priorities, hearts, and compassion are located. Are we truly willing to help others whenever possible or do we just love to say that we do? Do we only help people for a price in money, fame, business, or some other immediate benefit we crave? Do we wax poetic about serving Christ and bounce around pollinating our own agenda even as we look the other way when we can help a fellow traveler? To illustrate these points, I submit the following story of two real estate professionals.
Adam is a successful real estate professional with a well-established portfolio of accomplishment in many avenues and facets of his field. He has managed to develop both traditional success in investment and resale but has also managed to achieve in online, publishing, speaking, and marketing areas as well. His story reads like a textbook guide to starting from little and achieving much. By all parameters and indicators Adam is a very successful person helping others achieve their dreams. Ben, on the other hand, is just starting out in the real estate arena. He clearly has talent and a desire to help others, but he has been unable to make the most effective networks much less gotten any help at all from established pros like Adam.
Realizing and eager to achieve, Ben reached out to Adam in the hopes that Adam would help him become established. Ben also wanted to write books and do presentations in his field as Adam had done and he figured that a little help from Adam could help him get his foot in the door. Now Adam charged high fees from clients and others wishing to learn from his experience and knowledge. He justified those fees by arguing that nobody had really helped him break in and knowledge does not come cheap. Ben could not yet afford those fees and he really struggled with getting connections and building a network like Adam had managed to do.
Words are Cheap
Ben repeatedly asked Adam for help and made his intentions of achieving the kind of success Adam has clear, but Adam turned a blind eye to those overtures. At one point, Ben directly asked Adam to have Ben do a presentation as a warm up to one of Adam’s speaking engagements. Ben also asked Adam to help him get published. Adam ignored all of these overtures, requests, and opportunities to help Ben. At one point Ben even directly asked Adam to mentor him a bit to which Adam began shifting the conversation to taking on Ben as a client for a fee. Adam often expressed great faith and confidence in Ben’s ability to succeed and achieve in the field they both shared but, ultimately, he did nothing to help Ben along.
Eventually, Ben had some success, but with much less impact and extent than Adam’s achievements. Despite this modest achievement, Ben did his best to help others like himself find their footing in the field. He mentored others and even invited some to speak at his speaking engagements in the hopes that they too, would find a following. When asked why he was so willing to reach out to and help others succeed, Ben simply stated that he had been given a gift to help others but that gift would be lessened or tainted if he also did not use that gift to help others to help others moving forward.
Do Not Be a Smiling Hypocrite
Given the above two men, I ask you to consider which, Adam or Ben, is truly an example of what Christ meant by the Good Samaritan. Which of these two men is truly using his gifts to help others and to make a difference in the world. Which of these is all talk and hot air and which truly tries to live the kind of selfless, generous, and compassionate help that the parable of the Good Samaritan entails?
My friends, do not drone on about how much you love and care for others unless you are willing to help others selflessly and generously. Do not wail on endlessly about how much faith and trust you have in others’ road to success unless you can honestly say that you tried to contribute to that success within the means of your ability to do so. In short, be a Good Samaritan, do not just sell yourself as one.
2019 Gabriel Garnica