We have all become used to what were once private indiscretions now all becoming instantly public - in most cases to nobody's real benefit (except, I suppose, media scandalmongers who thrive on such things). Now it seems even individual and private acts of charity are likely to get captured by someone's smartphone and sent around the world - or, to use the common current expression, "go viral." I'm referring, of course, to the story - and the picture - of NYPD Sixth Precinct Officer Larry De Primo supplying a barefoot homeless man with a pair of $75 insulated boots on a cold night in Manhattan.
The location was 7th Avenue at 44th Street. The date was November 14. Were it not for a tourist from Arizona taking the picture, none of us would ever have known - much less seen - how Officer De Primo went into a local store and bought a pair of insulated winter boots and thermal socks, then knelt down, and put them on the man.
Unlike the scandals of people's private indiscretions going public, scandals which bring us no tangible benefit beyond entertainment, this individual act of private charity benefits us all - not just the poor man whose freezing feet were warmed by a policeman's warm heart - but all of us who hopefully may be moved to do something similar some day, some time, to someone, somewhere.
Once a year, we priests make a show of washing the feet of a few of our parishioners - in ritual imitation of Jesus' radically disconcerting behavior at the Last Supper [John 13:1-15]. Some sects take Jesus' instruction more literally and wash one another's feet on a regular basis. Perhaps that's their way of proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes [1 Corinthians 11:26]. The important point is that while we wait - in this in-between time (as I like to say, between Christmas and the End) - that we keep on proclaiming. Putting a pair of insulated boots and thermal socks on someone's freezing feet is certainly not the only way to do that, but it surely is a wonderful way.