Letter from Paul Mulligan
Catholic Charities President and CEO
An expert in the law once asked, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The Teacher replied, “Love God…and love your neighbor as yourself,” to which the scholar questioned back, “And who is my neighbor?”
At that, Jesus launched into one of his most well-known stories, the Parable of the Good Samaritan. (Gospel of Luke, Ch. 10, v. 25-37)
You may know how the story goes…
How there was a man walking a dangerous road who was then beaten, robbed and left for dead. And how along that road there first came a priest, who upon seeing the man lying there half-dead, crossed to the other side of the road and ventured on to serve God in the Temple. Next came a Levite journeying by who saw the man, and then did likewise.
Finally, there appeared a Samaritan man, but when he came upon the dying man, he was moved with compassion and began to minister to him, bind his wounds, and even provide financial support. In short, he affirmed the man’s dignity by taking responsibility for his most basic human needs: food, shelter, respite, love.
When Jesus then asked, “Which of these three was neighbor to the man?” the expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus challenges us now as he challenged the scholar then, commanding: “Go and do likewise.”
We look to this story as an inspiration and an aspiration for our agency:
- The Good Samaritan walked alongside his brother, on a path to permanent solutions.
- At Catholic Charities, we too walk alongside all of those we serve, on their path to permanent solutions.
And while the message and connection to our mission may seem pretty obvious – serve those in crisis, at-risk or vulnerable, tend to their needs – there is a treasure deeper still that awaits.
Reality is, we often think of serving the poor and vulnerable as a series of one-way transactions: “I have, you need,” and that forms the basis of our relationship.
But there is something much greater at work here, namely that the person who seemingly has nothing – perhaps all their worldly possessions in a shopping cart or under a bridge – actually has everything to give. For this very person reveals the truth that WE ARE ALL DEPENDENT ON ANOTHER…ON AN “OTHER” – Yes, on GOD HIMSELF! For EVERYTHING we are and have!
Often, we who do the giving and serving can live under the illusion that (“Thanks be to God,” we say) we don’t need anything from anyone, that we can provide for ourselves. Yet that person living under a bridge or literally lying at the side of the road reminds us in no uncertain terms of what it means to be totally dependent on another.
And if we’re going to be honest about it, that is the higher truth. It’s the one that so many of our vulnerable brothers and sisters live out every day, and it is a gift for us too … if we have the wisdom and humility to accept it. Only when we do will we truly see Christ in those we serve as they seem Him in us.
No matter your faith tradition or personal beliefs, we thank you for joining us on this journey together: serving, sharing and learning from our community’s most vulnerable … in the spirit of the Good Samaritan.
God Bless You,
Paul S. Mulligan
President and CEO