I recently came across a story that first aired on NPR in 2008, but has resurfaced today as one of NPR.org's most viewed articles. It shouldn't take you long to see why. In an interview, Julio Diaz (photo at right) describes how he was mugged at knife-point while leaving the subway in the Bronx.
He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.
"He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says.
As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."
The mugger, as one might expect, is confused by Diaz's actions, but he pauses long enough to accept Diaz's next offer: a meal at a nearby diner.
"The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi," Diaz says. "The kid was like, 'You know everybody here. Do you own this place?'"
"No, I just eat here a lot," Diaz says he told the teen. "He says, 'But you're even nice to the dishwasher.'"
Diaz replied, "Well, haven't you been taught you should be nice to everybody?"
"Yea, but I didn't think people actually behaved that way," the teen said.
The story gets even better. Read or listen to the rest here.
Diaz's actions present us with an inspiring example of courageous charity and a true embodiment of Gospel values. In the midst of a world that sometimes seems filled only with stories of bitter political battles or shoppers armed with pepper spray, it's refreshing to ready about a man who takes seriously the Sermon on the Mount.
It breaks my heart to think that any teenager would grow up without a single example of that sort of kindness. During this Advent season, perhaps Diaz's example can compel us to rexamine the ways in which we show—or fail to show—Christian love toward those around us, especially toward those who cause us pain.
"If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.... “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust." (Mt 5: 40, 43-45).