“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.” – Luke 12:48
They were huddled in the shade beside the ice cream store where we had stopped to refresh ourselves while traveling recently. I had hardly noticed them until a woman appeared from the shadows of the building’s overhang and asked if I could help them out. It was a young couple with a baby, obviously homeless and desperate, to which I responded kindly by offering a blessing and a few bucks. A short time later as we were leaving the store another couple was about to enter, except they had parked on the opposite side of the building, out of view from the needy family. The man held the door for his wife to enter, then excused himself explaining he would join her in a moment. I watched as he walked around the corner toward the homeless family, whom he had obviously spotted when he drove into the parking lot, then – totally unsolicited – handed them a fistful of cash along with a blessing and some encouraging words.
Watching that man’s kind gesture humbled me almost to tears. But didn’t we both respond to the needy family in a similar way, you might ask? Hardly, for unlike me that gentleman was paying attention to the world around him, alert to things that he could do to make it better, people in need like that desperate homeless family. I, on the other hand, was oblivious to my surroundings, my mind instead on the many ice cream flavors awaiting me inside the store.
Freedom, it has been said, is a two-sided coin. On one side is privilege; on the other, responsibility. We who reside in the land of the free treasure the freedom our fore-fathers fought for and so many have died to protect. Yet in our own day we are prone to scream like spoiled children whenever we fear any of those cherished freedoms are being threatened, forgetting too quickly that the coin has two sides, and that our freedom – and our democracy – require equal attention to both.
Jesus did not mince words about this, that “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded.” I think my emotions were stirred when that gentleman at the ice cream store noticed someone in need and stepped up to offer help, and unlike me, did so without any solicitation whatsoever, demonstrating that in his own privileged life there is a responsibility attached. Whoever you are sir, thank you for reminding me.