On the 12th July past my 17 year old niece headed into town to meet up with her Mum and Aunt. As she walked down Chapel lane she came upon the scene of an old man (whom she presumed to be homeless) being assaulted by two youths as he sat outside St. Mary’s Chapel. The two young men thuggishly stamped on the hands of the old man whilst demanding the money he held. The most distressing sight was of the old man’s tears which depicted his vulnerability and their lack of compassion. Too afraid to intervene on his behalf my niece looked around at the passers-by, amongst them worshippers entering St.Mary’s Chapel (to pray no doubt for their own souls and that of their dead) , in the hope that an adult would come to the aid of the victim. No one did. My niece looked on helpless as the two young men successfully relieved the old man from his money and headed towards the bookies.
My niece distressed at what she had witnessed ran to meet her Mum. On hearing the account of what happened they rushed to the scene but the old man had moved on. The two accused however were still in the bookies spending their booty. My younger sister rang the police whilst the other stood watch at the door. Given it was the 12th July they assumed there would be a substantial police presence in the town, and a patrol car could easily swing round to the scene and at least apprehend the two and question them. This would at least send the message that the assault on a vulnerable old homeless man would not go unnoticed by the public. Unfortunately by the time the police responded the two youths had also left the scene no doubt with the impression that the plight of an old man was of no concern to the good citizens of the city particularly, the good Christian citizens of the city.
There is something profoundly hypocritical and revealing about the indifference of the worshippers attending Mass in St. Mary’s Chapel that day to the plight of the old man. Those who scurried passed the injured victim and into the chapel to ask their God to take note of their good deeds, release a few souls from purgatory or build up their fare for an express journey to heaven, forgot all about the story of the Good Samaritan. A parable based on humanity and human concern for a fellow human being; the parable tells the story of a passer-by who stops to help a vulnerable and injured man, possibly a victim of assault similar to the one of the homeless man. Unfortunately for those who turned their eyes from the scene their God will have borne witness to their hypocrisy and absence of love for their fellow man and ironically their fare to heaven may just have risen in price; or indeed their stay in purgatory just been extended by a few thousand years or prayers.