(Jesus said) "Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise." Luke 10:36-37
Long ago I gave up trying to figure out the mind of a cat.
That is especially true for the cat whose story was recently reported in The Washington Post. In case you missed the article, let me share. The cat's story began when he clambered up a tree. Now the story of a cat climbing a tree is not the kind of item which is usually covered by The Post. Indeed, if the cat had been left alone, it would eventually have become tired of the expedition and returned to earth on his own power -- and been un-newsworthy.
But the cat was not left alone.
A frantic 911 call was made to the New York Police and Officer Dante Nato, moved by zealous dedication, volunteered to rescue the feline. Now I said before I don't understand the mind of a cat. I can't tell you if the cat didn't feel like being rescued, or if he simply enjoyed being up that tree. I can report that the higher Officer Nato climbed, the further out on a precarious limb the cat went.
Officer Nato followed until he couldn't go any further. Actually, he couldn't go any further forward, and he couldn't go further backward. He was stuck in the tree. In front of the cat he was stuck. In front of his partner he was stuck. In front of the observing staff and student body of a nearby elementary school he was stuck. In front of the fire department, which was called to rescue him, he was stuck. And then, courtesy of the global news services, his predicament of stuckness was relayed to the entire world.
So let me ask which of all these people was a good neighbor to that cat?
If you replied, "The officer who went out on a limb to save the cat," you would be correct. In spite of the laughter of his partner, the NYPD, the NYFD, and the world, the officer showed he cared. That he is the victim of incredible, unending jokes is not important. Officer Nato did his best.
As I read that story, it occurred to me that Christians are supposed to follow the example of Officer Nato. We are to do the right thing for others -- not because they will always appreciate us. We do the right and neighborly thing because that is exactly what Jesus did for us.
Truly, if Jesus demanded an appreciative world before He was born, we would still be waiting for His coming. Jesus came because it was what His Father asked Him to do. He came into this world, went out on a limb, risked and lost His life, so you and I and all who believe might be saved.
Now I can't tell you if Officer Nato will ever again try to rescue another stray cat. That is up to his conscience, dignity and sense of duty. On the other hand, I can tell you the Lord has told us to do our best to be neighborly.
Even if it takes us out on a limb.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, in Your honor may I be neighborly, even when my neighbors are not. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries