by Rev Robert A Wendel
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all…” (Galatians 6:10, KJV)
It’s not unusual for professional Major League umpires to make split-second decisions in their line of work, during the course of a game, a series of games between two teams or even a whole season. John Tumpane was to be the home plate umpire that night in May during a game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh between the Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays.
After lunch while jogging across the Roberto Clemente Bridge directly behind the gall field, John spotted a woman who had climbed over the railing and was getting ready to jump into the water below. Quickly moving forward, the ump grabbed her arm and asked someone to call 911. She shouted “You don’t care about me. I want to be in a better place.”
Mr. Tumpane replied “I’m not going to let you go. Let’s talk it over.” She repeated, “No one wants to help me.” John told her, “We’re all here to help you.” By then on the bridge walk-way handcuffed to the structure guardrail, the upset young lady replied “You’ll forget me by tomorrow!” As paramedics, a police boat and even a helicopter arrived, Mr. Tumpane told them “I will not forget her. I was just glad to help.”
In his three-year teaching ministry, Jesus was a story teller. His thirty-eight short stories included in the gospels are referred to as parables, earthly tales with a heavenly meaning. Several of these home-spun illustrations are about the simple farm life, family relations or missed opportunities.
The best known rescue parable is related in the tenth chapter of Luke’s gospel (10:25-37) in about 300 words, Luke, the Greek physician, recounted the story about how an unidentified man had been robbed, beaten and left for dead on the Jericho Road.
This story was told in response to a lawyer’s question concerning the relationship between the Jewish law and eternal life. The Master’s salvation was “You must love God and your neighbor.” So, the questioner asked “Who is my neighbor?” The Samaritan didn’t know much about God or the Jewish law. But, he was human and willing to do what he could for this needy person, right then and there.
Most church-goers believe in helping the unfortunate but would rather write a check than to be directly involved with the other person’s troubles. Like the other two travelers in the parable, they would rather just ‘walk on by.’ Jesus’ lesion here is “The best way to get to heaven is to be involved with life. Do what you can, whenever you can, to whoever you can!