By Rev. Paul N. Papas II
3 December 2012
Christmas in July or December is more about the true meaning and spirit of Christmas, not about the gifts and mounds of debit incurred each year in the name of Christmas Day.
The recent story of “how a simple act of kindness can become a worldwide inspiration and a public relations bonanza for the New York Police Department” is a good example of true meaning and spirit of Christmas.
“In a case of being in the right place at the right time, a tourist from Arizona, who happens to work in law enforcement herself, was visiting New York City earlier month when she noticed a man without shoes asking for change near Times Square.
Jennifer Foster, of Florence, Arizona, sent the following note, along with a picture she took, to the NYPD, which posted it on its Facebook page. “Right when I was about to approach, one of your officers came up behind him. The officer said, ‘I have these size 12 boots for you, they are all-weather. Let’s put them on and take care of you.’ The officer squatted down on the ground and proceeded to put socks and the new boots on this man. The officer expected NOTHING in return and did not know I was watching. I have been in law enforcement for 17 years. I was never so impressed in my life. I did not get the officer’s name. It is important, I think, for all of us to remember the real reason we are in this line of work. The reminder this officer gave to our profession in his presentation of human kindness has not been lost on myself or any of the Arizona law enforcement officials with whom this story has been shared.”
That Facebook post has gone viral since it went up Tuesday, with more than 148,000 shares, 436,000 likes and 32,000 comments. Most of those comments, which come from places as far away as Australia and Malaysia, praise the officer for his simple act.” (Brad Lendon CNN – November 29, 2012).
New York Police Officer Lawrence DePrimo had his heart in the right place. He saw a need and had the ability to fill the need of the homeless man, then did just that. Officer DePrimo acted as the Good Samaritan did in the Bible. Neither Officer DePrimo nor the Good Samaritan did their good deeds with the intent of letting others know or to seek any rewards for their kindness, they both acted out of the goodness of their hearts.
The 54 year old homeless man, Jeffrey Hillman, is very grateful to Officer DePrimo for the gift of the boots however “Those shoes are hidden,” he told the New York Times “They are worth a lot of money—I could lose my life.” “I appreciate what the officer did, don’t get me wrong,” Hillman added. “I wish there were more people like him in the world.”
There are a variety of issues that would lead someone to become homeless. In Jeffrey Hillman’s case, it is not that he does not have a place to live, as his brother is willing to take him in and live with him.
Why People Become Homeless…
Numerous national, state and local reports repeatedly indicate that there is not one single cause that leads to homelessness. However, without the financial ability to make ends meet and afford an apartment or home, individuals and families become homeless.
Other factors that contribute to homelessness include:
Loss of Job / Domestic Violence
High Housing / Rental Costs / Disability – Physical/Mental
Death of a Family Member / Low Paying Job
Natural Disasters (fires, storms) / Catastrophic Illness
Family Break Up / Lack of Transportation (car or public system)
Family Crisis (loss of hours; car break down) / Lack of Affordable Health Care
There have been various attempts to bring people in from out in the cold. For those who choose to remain homeless and not re-integrate into society it could be as a result of a medical condition of a mental illness.
There are quite a number of Veterans who are homeless at this time. Even though Veterans gave a blank check to us, which included their life, to defend our freedoms there are several well placed individuals in Washington, DC who are targeting Veterans to take away certain Rights of Veterans. Those who served at the command of the same government that now call them terrorist threat’s and find various excuses to take away Rights of Veterans, without due process. It is true Veterans, Police Officers, and victims of crime or Domestic Violence can suffer with a medical condition of a mental illness such as PTSD after their encounter. Medical conditions of a mental illness are treatable, and in many cases you would never know they had a medical condition of a mental illness. The Stigma of medical condition of a mental illness is the problem.
Doing good for someone, out of the goodness of your heart, is rewarding enough. Doing good for someone, out of the goodness of your heart can bring the spirit and meaning of Christmas to someone on any day of the year. I hope you don’t miss it.
Christmas is about the Good News God sent us. We are to share the Good News with others. I hope you don’t miss it.
You may do something as simple as help feed the homeless, less fortunate, and needy on Christmas Day or support a church or ministry that does. At this time of year a simple “Merry Christmas” will help.
Reverend Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (MA and AZ) and Founder of the Family Renewal Center (AZ). http://www.narrowpathministries.org and http://www.familyrenewalcenteraz.org