By Gregory Kepferle
CEO, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and President, Charities Housing Development Corporation
We’ve heard and read the story of the Good Samaritan hundreds of times in our life – at church, in religious studies classes, in faith sharing groups. But how many of us remember a character in that story called the Innkeeper? Lately, he has become my favorite character in the story even though it seems he only has a bit part. You remember how Jesus was asked “who is my neighbor” and he responds with the story of the man who was beaten and robbed as he traveled the road to Jericho. After being ignored and avoided by a priest and a Levite, his life is saved by a Samaritan (a heretic) who sees him, pities him, binds his wounds and carries him on his own animal to the inn where the Samaritan cares for him overnight. The next day as the Samaritan gets ready to leave on his business, he pays the Innkeeper and tells the Innkeeper to care for the wounded man until the Samaritan returns. And he promises to pay the Innkeeper whatever amount is needed to cover the costs of the care for the wounded person when he returns. So the Samaritan does the loving act of immediately caring for a stranger in need, his “neighbor” whom he encounters on the road. And he pays for the Innkeeper to continue the healing process. We don’t know how long the Samaritan will be gone. We don’t know how long the healing will take. Who is caring for the man while the Samaritan is gone? The Innkeeper. For how long? As long as it takes.
Working at Catholic Charities, I often feel like we are the Innkeepers. We have a business to run with competent compassionate employees who care for our guests. Our guests are often wounded by the pains of the world – wounded by war, prejudice, incarceration, fear, mental illness, unemployment, homelessness, the physical aches of aging and disabilities, family struggles, and educational challenges. And we have volunteer Good Samaritans helping rescue the lost and the broken, restoring ruined homes, and welcoming the stranger. We are neighbors who care for neighbors in need here in Santa Clara County providing food, housing, healing, education and economic security. We run the “inn” – the structures, the resources and the places to provide those life-changing services. And while we provide this place of healing, we await the return of the Good Samaritan.
To learn more about Catholic Charities and our Good Samaritan and Innkeeper Funds and to support our impact funds around Food, Housing, Health, Education, and Economic Security please visit www.CatholicCharitiesSCC.org.