July 9, 2012
So the other night, Br. Roch and I were coming back to the friary in Newark, NJ, and as we come down Ninth Street, Br. Roch exclaims, “Whoa, did you see that car!?”
And I say, “What car?”
I look back to only see what I thought was a big dark dumpster. Brother throws the car in reverse, and I quickly realize that it’s actually a big truck, flipped on its side, sitting right in the middle of the sidewalk right beside St. Antoninus Church.
Immediately Br. Roch says, “Is anybody hurt?”
I look around and no one is in the car, and there’s no police around. We both kind of scratch our heads and wonder what happened.
As we head a few blocks down the street, I see one of my friends from the neighborhood, a real good guy, sitting on his front steps with some friends. And I ask [Br. Roch] to stop the car, and then get out and say “Hey, Abdul! What happened!?”
As we walk over, he begins to tell us. “Man, these young kids about 4 or 5 hours ago came barrelin’ round the corner and they flipped it!...Then they kicked out the back, they all crawled out, and stole the one that was parked beside it and took off! Then the fire truck came, and they powered it down so it wouldn’t explode. And then these young kids had the audacity to come back! They talked to the firefighters, crawled inside the truck—”
Jamal, Abdul’s friend, interrupts to say, “Yeah, probably to get their gun. Hahaha!”
Abdul finishes by saying, “and then they took off again. Man, all the neighbors were all upset, saying ‘Why didn’t they stop them? Why didn’t they stop them?’ That’s because,” Abdul says to them, “they’re firefighters! They fight FIRES….they’re not going to fight these young dudes.”
We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe we did a little of both, but as I reflect on the story, the first concern of my brother wasn’t the car, but the human person. He immediately wanted to know first of all that everyone was OK. Perhaps justice wasn’t “served up” right away to the young thieves, but no one got in a gun fight like we often hear as sunset falls over our poor neighborhood. And we trust and pray that God in his infinite and sometimes incomprehensible mercy will bring these young men back to an even better road unto their salvation, which may have been at stake if they were to have died either in the accident or in a gunfight. In the meantime, we keep doing our best by trying to bring a seed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who is both Lord and Savior, to one person at a time. May we all flourish as He intends and desires.
Br. Nicholas Joseph, CFR
Most Blessed Sacrament Friary