Whose business is it?

How easy it is to be absorbed in one’s self. We work so hard taking care of ourselves that we can be oblivious to the needs of others. We can fall into the trap of thinking that getting involved is none of our business. We rationalize that a person would ask for help if he or she wanted it. Minding our own business is comfortable, after all, and keeps us out of the affairs of others. It’s the same answer given in the Old Testament when God asked Cain what happened to his brother Abel.

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain responded.

Unfortunately, too many people have this attitude and there are horror stories of those who carried it to the extreme. I remember reading about a young woman in New York City who was brutally murdered while her neighbors watched from their windows. Not one person interceded or called the police. No one wished to be involved, or they were afraid.

Such a story can shock us. Surely we would never do anything like that and hopefully it’s true, but perhaps we have averted our gazes in other situations.

Maybe I suspect that domestic violence is taking place in a family I know, but say nothing because I can’t be sure. “Anyway, it is really none of my business.”

Maybe I see a mother hitting a toddler in the mall, or suspect someone of selling drugs at school; what if I see someone crying in the back of class or in the employee lounge and don’t bother to ask if I can help, or pass street people and pretend they are not there. These occurrences might require me to act. I might have to change my plans or go out of my way for a stranger, but after all, “it is really none of my business.”

Think of how few people Jesus would have touched if he’d had that same attitude. There sure wouldn’t be many healings or miracles recorded in the Scriptures.

As we know, Jesus did involve himself in the lives of others. His whole life centered on helping people. He was a caring person, and showed love and compassion even if he had to break the Jewish law. He always put people and their needs first. The law came second.

As disciples of Jesus, we are called to follow his example. Actually, we are called to be Jesus for others. We are indeed our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers and we must not let the excuse that “it is none of my business” get in the way of our reaching out.

Good Christians really have no other choice. We are united in the Body of Christ and are in a special relationship with one another. The essential element in the life of each Christian is love. Love must motivate all our actions.

When we reach out to another in love, we are reaching out to Christ. In the Gospel of St. Matthew Jesus tells us that when we feed the hungry, visit the sick, clothe the naked, visit prisoners, we are doing all those things to him.

Perhaps today he might say that when we reach out to an unpopular person, when we call or e-mail someone who is lonely, when we give some of our clothes to an organization that helps the poor, when we volunteer at a homeless shelter, or when we stop and really listen to someone, we do all of that to him.

Let us strive to reach out in love to all we meet. Let us put the face of Christ on all those we encounter and make it our business to help all those we can in whatever way we can, even if it is just recognizing the value and dignity of each person.

Sister Margie Lavonis is a Sister of the Holy Cross from Notre Dame, Ind. Contact her at mlavonis@cscsisters.org.