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The Parable of
THE GOLDEN RULE
“Hi, Mom, I’m home!” said Mark. He shook off his umbrella in the doorway and took off his rubber boots. Then he went into the kitchen and dropped his schoolbooks and reached for a cookie.
“No, you don’t”, said his mother. “It’s too close to dinnertime. What took you so long to get home?”
“Remember what we learned in church last Sunday?” said Mark. “The Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
“What about it?” she said.
“Well, I made a new friend on the way home from school”, said Mark. “Can I invite him over for dinner?”
“I don’t see why not”, said his mother. “How about tomorrow night?”
“I was thinking more like…tonight”, said Mark.
“Tonight?” said his mother. “Well, I guess it’s alright. I have enough hamburger defrosted. Do you think he’ll want one hamburger or two?”
“Probably two”, said Mark.
“Alright”, said his mother. “Why don’t you give him a call? Do you have his phone number?”
“No”, said Mark, “I don’t need it.” He walked back to the kitchen door and stuck his head out. “She said it’s alright!” he said.
“For heaven’s sake!” said his mother. “You left him standing outside in the rain?”
“I wanted to make sure I had permission first”, said Mark.
“Well, goodness, let him in”, she said.
“Come on in”, said Mark cheerfully to his friend outside.
She heard his voice before she saw him.
“Howdy, Ma’am”, he said. “It’s mighty nice of you, offerin’ me vittles and all.” The man stepped across the threshold of the kitchen, removed his hat, and bowed humbly. “An’ yer son’s a real nice lad. Real nice.”
The man was middle-aged, wearing old, thin clothing that could safely be described as rags. He was quite dirty, despite the washing of the rain. Mark’s mother wiped the surprised look off her face and tried to put on a smile.
“Welcome”, she said.
Mark grabbed the man’s hand and pulled him into the kitchen and closed the back door. “His name is Sam”, said Mark.
“Howdy, Ma’am”, he said again, offering his hand.
His nails were packed with dirt, and his hands were calloused, but he shook her hand gently and smiled. Some of his teeth were missing.
“My name is Peg. You’re soaking wet”, she observed. “Dinner won’t be ready for some time. Perhaps you’d like to clean up first.”
“Aw, that’s mighty nice of you, Ma’am”, said Sam.
“Come on”, she said, “you must be freezing. She and Mark took him upstairs to Mark’s bathroom and gave him two clean towels to use. “I’ll be right back”, she said, and disappeared down the hallway.
“Isn’t this great?” said Mark. “I told you she’d like you. Maybe she’ll let you stay overnight. You could stay in my room. I’ll ask.”
“No, boy”, Sam said. “I’m just tickled to have a warm shower and vittles.”
Peg returned with a pile of men’s clothes, and set them on the counter. “My husband passed away”, she explained. “He was about your size. I want you to have these.” She also gave him a new toothbrush and comb, and showed him how to turn on the shower. “You take your time”, she insisted. “I’m going to get dinner ready.”
“Aw, Ma’am”, he said, “this is mighty nice of you. Mighty nice. Thank you.”
She nodded and gave him a warm smile this time, and closed the door for him. Mark followed her downstairs to the kitchen.
“Um, Mom?” Mark said.
“What is it, Dear?” she said, as she began to make hamburger patties.
“There’s one more thing”, said Mark.
She stopped what she was doing and looked at him, with her hands on her hips. “And what might that be, young man?”
Mark pointed his thumb to the kitchen door. “There’s one more out there. Can I bring him in out of the rain?”
“Another one?” exclaimed his mother. “You left him standing outside in the rain all this time?”
“I wanted to get permission first”, he said simply. He opened the door and whistled. “Come here, boy!” he said. In bounced a wet, dirty old dog, tracking mud prints on her kitchen floor. “His name is Toby”, Mark said, petting him. “You’re going to love him.”
Toby shook himself off briskly, muddy water splattering everywhere.
“Wait ‘till you see what tricks he can do!” said Mark.
“I’m not impressed with his first trick”, she said. “Mark, take him up to my bathroom and give him a bath. Make sure you use the old towels in the closet.”
Mark said, “Come on, boy! I told you my mom was cool!” They raced each other up the stairs.
“And come back down and clean up this mess!” she called after him. Peg looked at the kitchen door for a moment, and walked over and stuck her head out. Satisfied that there were no more surprises out there, she went back to fix dinner.
Sam was very polite during dinner, and insisted on cleaning all the dishes himself. Afterwards, they sat in the living room while Toby showed off all his tricks.
“Can he spent the night, Mom?” asked Mark. “He doesn’t have a home, and it’s still raining out.”
She hesitated only a moment. “You can sleep in Helen’s room”, she said. “Mark, go up and show him while I get your lunch ready for tomorrow. And make sure your homework’s done, young man.”
“Come on”, Mark said. He showed him to his sister’s room. It was neat and clean with a single bed full of stuffed animals. “This is my older sister’s room”, said Mark. “She and my dad were in a car accident last year. My dad died, and she was hurt real bad. She’s in the hospital all the time now. She needs a kidney. We all have two kidneys, but we only need one. Mom and I got tested, but the doctors said our kidneys wouldn’t match hers. If we don’t find one that matches, she’s going to… to die.”
“How ‘bout the rest of yer family?” asked Sam. “Did any of them get tested?”
“Yep”, Mark said sadly. “No one matched. Mom says maybe Helen is supposed to go to heaven. Maybe it’s her time to go.”
“I wonder if I can get tested”, said Sam. “Maybe I can give her one of mine.”
“Mom goes to the hospital every day before work”, said Mark. “Maybe you can go with her and find out. Right now I’ve got to get my homework done, though. Do you think you can help me out with the math?”
“I reckon I can have a look”, said Sam. “I’m not much into schoolin’, but I’m pretty good at fixin’ things.”
“Well, we sure need a lot of stuff fixed around here”, Mark said. “Maybe Mom will let you stay on here a while if you do that for her. She’s always saying we don’t have enough money for a repairman.
“Aw, I couldn’t ask her that”, said Sam. “It was plum nice of her to let me stay the night, though.”
“I’ll ask her for you”, said Mark. “Leave it to me.”
The next morning, Peg was up early to make breakfast, but to her surprise, Sam was already up and doing repairs in the kitchen.
“Mornin’, Ma’am”, he said. “Yer boy told me some things needed fixin’ around here. I fixed yer garbage disposal, and I’m working’ on yer ceiling fan. I hope you don’t mind. I’ll be done in a few minutes. Then I’ll be on my way.”
“Where will you go?” asked Peg.
“Well, now that I’m all cleaned up and have these nice clothes, I figured I’d go downtown to see about getting’ me a job. I’m handy at fixin’ things.”
Peg tried the garbage disposal, which worked perfectly. “So I see”, she said. “Well, stay for breakfast, anyway. Then I’m going to St. Luke’s hospital. If you’re heading that direction, I’d be happy to give you a lift.”
“That’s exactly where I’m headed”, said Sam. “I’d be mighty obliged, Ma’am.”
After breakfast, Mark went off to school and Toby hopped in the car with Sam, and soon they were on their way.
“I’m sorry about yer youngin’”, said Sam. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to go with you to the hospital. I’ve got some business there first.”
“Will Toby be alright in the car?” asked Peg.
“I’ll tell him to wait for me outside”, said Sam. “He’s a good dog. A real good dog.”
Sam removed his hat when they entered the hospital, and they went to Helen’s room together. After a few minutes of paying his respect, Sam bid his farewells with appreciation, and excused himself with a final goodbye.
But that wasn’t the last she heard from Sam.
Several days later, she got the most wonderful phone call of her life. The hospital called, saying they had a donor kidney that was a match for Helen. It was an additional surprise when she saw Sam at the hospital the day of the surgery. He was wearing a hospital gown and lying on a surgery stretcher, all smiles.
“I’m Helen’s match!” he said happily. “Isn’t that great?”
A nurse came over to them. “You’ll have to say your good-byes now”, she said. “It’s time to go. Peg didn’t know what to say. Tears welled up in her eyes.
“Now don’t go gettin’ all weepy on me”, Sam said. “This is a happy day. A real happy day.”
“Thank you”, was all Peg could say as the nurse rolled him off down the hallway.
She never got a chance to say good-bye to Sam, but perhaps she didn’t need to. Shortly after her daughter’s surgery was safely over, a commotion broke out in the hospital. Peg feared the worst for Sam. She went to the surgery receptionist and asked about him.
“Are you a relative?” she asked.
“No”, said Peg, “a friend. He donated his kidney to my daughter. Is he alright?”
“That’s just it”, said the receptionist. “We can’t find him. He seems to have disappeared.”
“Disappeared?” said Peg. “He just had major surgery. How could he disappear?”
“Don’t ask me”, she said. “He was in the recovery room one minute, and gone the next. Even his clothes are still here.”
That wasn’t the last of the surprises. When she got home that evening, Toby was waiting outside her door with a red ribbon around his neck. Attached was a note that said, “To Mark”. Another note was pinned to the front door, which said simply, “John 13:34-35”.
When they looked up the passage in the Bible, it said, “Love one another as I have loved you. By this all will know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love for one another.”
THE GOLDEN RULE (Luke 6:31)
“And as you would that men should do to you, do also to them likewise.”