Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has a wonderful and well-known reflection on this Scripture passage. He points out that the priest and the Levite refused to help because they asked the very natural question, “What will happen to me if I stop?” The Samaritan came to the man’s aid because he asked a different question: “What will happen to him if I don’t stop?”
In Shawn Carney’s recent book, The Beginning of the End of Abortion, he relates an incident from a 40 Days for Life vigil held in front of a busy Planned Parenthood clinic in California. A dedicated volunteer was praying there when an angry woman confronted her. The volunteer listened attentively and spoke to the woman gently, in truth and love. At that point, the woman broke down, acknowledging that her own abortion at that clinic years before had destroyed her life.
The woman then lamented that no one had been there to offer her an alternative on the day of her abortion. She asked the volunteer, over and over, “Where were you? Where were you when I needed you?” The volunteer took a hard look inward and had to answer honestly that she had been too timid back then. She sincerely apologized to the woman for lacking the courage to be there in her time of need.
Way too often, I am like the priest and Levite, asking about my own needs when considering whether or not to stand on that sidewalk. This woman’s story hits me hard and reminds me of what I should be asking instead: “What will happen to her if I don’t stop to pray at the vigil?”
REPORTS FROM THE SIDEWALK:
7-9 AM, Nikki:
I was blessed to be accompanied by my old friend Bob, from St. Joe’s in Verona for my 7-9 shift this morning. It was just the two of us for the first hour or so, and we spent it in peaceful prayer, under our umbrellas. I distributed many beautiful rose petals on the sidewalk, in memory of the little ones whose bodies are torn apart inside those doors. We received all positive comments, many people thanked us for being there. Many smiles from pre-schoolers being led by their moms to the nearby daycare. They love seeing the baby models and I wonder what kind of impression seeing people praying in the rain makes upon their little impressionable minds? Many seeds are planted!Nikki
No one else was scheduled to come, so I was very pleasantly surprised to see Marilyn coming towards us at a little after 8 am. She had seen the movie, “Unplanned”, last night, and was so moved by it that she woke up this morning and decided to join us! Praise God for that and I hope the movie moves many more to join us! Couples began going in for abortions around 8. I put away my rosary and put on my sidewalk advocate “hat”, and began to reach out to the abortion-bound couples. Sadly, no one took me up on my offers of help…that I know of. But, as Abby said in the movie last night…when we are out there…their no-show rate climbs. She calls it “Planned Parenthood’s dirty little secret”. It is hard to believe….but I have to believe it. We do make a difference.
9-11 AM, Kathy and Marianne:
Thank you to Pastor Matt, from Reformed Presbyterian Church of Oakland and Dan B. From Mother of Sorrows Church, Murrysville. Also to Marilyn, not pictured, for coming to pray today.Kathy
Very rainy today. I passed out yellow cards to some passersby and pp patrons. A distraught woman passed, perhaps homeless, stating to me that she “didn’t want to live like this anymore.” I googled bigburgh.com, but the woman didn’t like the services and walked away. I called the contact number and left message.
11 AM-1 PM, Barbara and Pastor Bryan:
Kathy stayed for a moment to talk about UNPLANNED. Abby Johnson’s movie memoir was riveting.Barbara
Holy Sepulcher parishioners arrived and more just kept coming.
Sandi, Michael, Debbie and George came. Walt came alone. “I come year round. I pray the Rosary for this every day!”
Pastor Bryan had a powerful conversation with a woman who passionately supported her “right to choose.”
John, from the Latin Mass Community, came and started right into prayer.
Connie and George joined in the Sorrowful Mysteries.
We read the prayers from the back of Jeannie’s pictures.We prayed the daily Devotional.
These parishioners came to pray and never stopped.
Traffic was noisy and persistent over the lunch hour. It had a friendly feel.
It was sad to see young people going into PP. Most had a friend with them.
1-3 PM, Elaine:
During my shift today I had parishioners from Holy Sepulcher Church with me. One of the parishioners had a connection with a prison in Florida. Some of the prisoners from that prison are praying for our pro-life efforts.Elaine
3-5 PM, Pat:
I didn’t lack for company this afternoon. When I arrived, the four faithful members of West Hills Baptist Church were there. It was good to see those familiar faces from so many campaigns. [And they’re always so good at passing out our literature and engaging people who pass by.] Also there were Val and Mike from St. Mark’s in the McKeesport area, who I met last week for their very first trip to the sidewalk. It was so encouraging that first experience brought them back. And they promised to keep coming back as well. Finally, we had Greg from St. Anne’s in Castle Shannon. He came because he’s a friend of Dave’s from WHBC. It was his first time and he felt like God was calling him to be here. He certainly was able to engage just about every passerby. Keep him in prayer as he discerns further.
I encouraged him (as well as some of the others) to go see Unplanned this weekend if it was at all possible. I also promised to put Greg in touch with our Sidewalk Advocates leaders as he seemed interested in possibly taking the training.Pat
5-7 PM, Fran and Bill:
It was a very quiet Friday evening, very little interaction on the sidewalk. Bill and I were joined by a faith-filled family from St. Kilian: Gabe, Mike, Lianne and John. Lianne was at the vigil earlier in the week. She had searched the schedule to see where there were openings and filled in where we needed – very much appreciated! We began the evening with the Prayers of Petition to end abortion and we prayed the Rosary at 6:00. One gentleman stopped to look at our display. He is not from Pittsburgh and so he was seeing 40 Days for Life for the first time and he was very thankful to see people standing for the babies. Diane and Tom came to pickup the materials. Gabe and John jumped right in wanting to help – their kindness and thoughtfulness were truly appreciated.Fran