A Modern Day Samaritan

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On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’;and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

In the dark of the early hours of this very morning as Jason Cisneros sat in his car, he saw a woman being attacked. Jason did not know either the woman or the brute who was hurting her. He might have simply stayed put and called the police for help or quietly driven away, pretending that he had never witnessed what was happening. Most of us might have taken the less courageous route but Jason Cisneros was a very special person and he took the high road. He went to the aid of the helpless lady without even considering his own safety. It was something that he was well known for doing. He was remembered by his classmates as someone who often stood up to bullies and took care of those who were ridiculed and afraid.  Sadly Jason paid the ultimate price for his heroism when the angry, abusive man pulled out a gun and shot him in the abdomen. His wound was lethal and he later died to the shock and dismay of everyone who knew him.

Today Jason’s family and friends are in a state of shock. They cannot understand how or why such a horror has happened. Their incredible twenty year old son, brother, cousin, friend is never going to be with them again. The loss is unbearable because Jason was known as someone with a ready smile, a quick wit, and a sunny disposition. He had a knack for making everyone feel good. All of the promise of his young life is in a shambles and nobody is able to find the words either to explain what has happened or to comfort those whose hearts are utterly broken.

Jason Cisneros was the younger brother of a wonderful young lady whom I had the pleasure of knowing when I worked at KIPP Houston High School. His sister Joana and I have kept in touch over the years and I was honored when she invited me to her wedding festivities. I was unable to attend that evening but when Mike and I went to her home to deliver the gift that I had bought for her I learned just how delightful her family was, something that I should have already realized given the beauty of Joana’s character.

We were first greeted by Joana’s grandfather who spoke to Mike in Spanish. He made Mike and me feel welcome and thanked us profusely for our kindness to his granddaughter. While we waited to see Joana the whole family came out to greet us. I can’t remember ever feeling more genuinely appreciated. I saw on that day why Joana was such an impressive person. She and her family burrowed into a special place in my heart.

I did not know Jason. I think that I met him on that special day but he merely sat quietly while we visited with his sister. Given what I had learned about Joana it did not take a leap of imagination for me to understand that he too was someone who had learned from his parents and grandparents the importance of being a strong, loving and highly moral person. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he was studying Mechanical Engineering Technology at the University of Houston while also holding down a job. He came from a long line of brilliant and industrious people.

Jason was part of a close extended family. Several years back one of their members died quite suddenly. The family pulled together and supported one another through a grief that was palpable. I will never forget the beauty of their mutual love. I suspect that they are now coming together once again and trying come to grips with their newest tragedy. My heart and my thoughts are crying with Joana and her cousins, Julie and Saida, two other students who will always be precious to me.

Jason Cisneros is a true hero. He lived the words of Jesus Himself. He demonstrated the highest form of love for his fellow man. He gave of his own life, the ultimate sacrifice. His family will always be justly proud of him but I have little doubt that his absence has created a hole in their hearts that will never quite be filled. I pray that in His mercy the good Lord will comfort them. Their Jason has left an example of how to live for all of us. We must never forget.

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