Living by the scriptures

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

— Matthew 5:44

House calls on Christmas are always memorable. One particularly memorable house call occurred a few days before Christmas in the early days of my practice, more than 40 years ago. I had been asked to go to the home of a patient who lived on a hill overlooking the city. I was tired and hungry after a long and busy day and I was eager to get home to spend the holiday evening with my wife and young boys.

It was late and dark and cold when I arrived at the home. Several inches of snow had fallen during the day making the streets and sidewalks slippery and treacherous. Cars were parked in the driveway and there was no parking place on the narrow street in front. I finally found a space several doors down the street and eased my car into the spot. As I got out of the car and took my medical bag from the trunk, a truck came down the street and stopped beside me. Through the open window the driver blasted me with foul and abusive language. He screamed that I had parked in his spot and that I had no business being there.

I was tired and irritable. I bristled as I turned to face my tormentor. My initial inclination was to return verbal abuse for verbal abuse and tell him to go jump in a snowbank.

Was it the Spirit of Christmas that made me react differently? In a calm voice I responded, "Is that any way to speak to a stranger, especially at this time of the year? I'll be parked here for just a few minutes and then you may have the spot."

He saw my bag and asked, "Are you a doctor?"

When I said I was, his demeanor changed immediately. Was it the Spirit of Christmas that made him react differently? Contritely he said, "Oh, I'm sorry for what I said, Doc. Stay there as long as you want. Who's sick anyway?"

I explained I was on my way to see one of his neighbors and I had taken the only parking place I could find for a block on either side of the street.

He apologized again saying, "You're right. I shouldn't have talked that way, especially at this time of the year."

I made the house call and returned to the warmth of my home and family to enjoy the remainder of the evening.

The truck driver and I both learned a valuable lesson on that cold, dark, pre-Christmas night. If we are to build a kinder, gentler nation and world, the beginnings must come from within each of us.

Yes, the Spirit of Christmas — the Spirit of Christ — is real.

A. Hamer Reiser Jr., M.D., Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Living by the Scriptures" is another in a series of Church News reader response articles. Was there a time when a particular scripture touched you, when it offered comfort, guidance and much-needed support? If so, please describe your experience in 250-300 words, giving the scripture reference and telling how it affected you. Send your submission to Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110. Fax No. (801) 237-2524. Internet E-mail: [email protected]

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