By Bishop Oscar Cantú
Diocese of San Jose
The story of the Good Samaritan is one of Jesus’ most beloved parables. The story is compelling because Jesus uses the parable in response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” After telling the story, Jesus turns the question back to the one who had asked him, and his answer is, “…the one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus responds, “Go and do likewise.”
Over these past several months, I have visited many parishes throughout Santa Clara County. I have been astounded by the diversity in the Diocese – not only in terms of culture, race, or country of origin, but by the socio-economic difference between those who live in spacious houses and manicured gardens and those who live in crowded apartments and garages. While we belong to the same Church and are invited to share at the One Table, it is clear to me that not everyone is traveling along the same “road” to get to the Table.
I have met scores of “good Samaritans” in the Diocese. There are dozens of food banks and vibrant outreach ministries to those in need. I have met with the parishes who host vulnerable homeless persons and community leaders who provide scholarships and mentoring to first generation college students. I also spent time touring our own Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County programs and sites. I was impressed by the breadth and reach of their programming: literacy and nutrition programs, support for the elderly in skilled nursing facilities, support to those who are incarcerated, and immigration legal services.
I am encouraged to see so much being done, yet, I know that the need is increasing. While we will work to ensure that those who travel these roads are safe, we cannot be afraid to raise issues about why those roads got to be the way they are and how might we as Church begin to address those issues. Returning to the parable, the Good Samaritan makes a commitment to the wounded traveler by paying the innkeeper to continue care for the man’s recovery. The commitment of the Good Samaritan must also be our commitment. We need to commit our resources to those who travel down difficult roads and this commitment must be a generational commitment.
Catholic Charities is our Catholic collective effort not only to help those who travel difficult roads, but to make the roads safer and even to provide the inn keeping services. We are the Good Samaritans who, as in the parable, say, “take care of this person.” With your faith as your legacy, I ask that you consider a legacy gift to Catholic Charities. A bequest in a trust will help our collective effort to care for those who fall victim to lack of housing, food, and adequate income, as well as our efforts to improve educational opportunities and healthcare, and to help build better roads for tomorrow.
Bishop Oscar Cantú will present on the subject of leaving behind a better road at “Living Well, Leaving Well,” a morning of conversation and learning about planning your legacy on April 25 from 9 a.m.- noon, at Saint Francis of Assisi, 5111 San Felipe Road, San Jose, Ca 95135. You are invited to join us at this free and informative event. Learn more by visiting: www.catholiccharitiesscc.org/decisions.