The Bureau of Helping
Gospel Reading for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Year C)
Christian: Hi. Uh...I don't know if I'm in the right place. You see...
Clerk: Do you have your paperwork?
Christian: Uh...yes! This right here. I'm not sure if I completely filled it out right. I'm not even sure what a CI-83 form is...
Clerk: Compassion Index Form 83.
Christian: What exactly is this place?
Clerk: We're here to make sure you don't help the wrong people in the wrong way.
Christian: Ha! Like it's wrong to help a certain person.
Clerk: (stares back humorouslessly) State your business.
Christian: Well, there's this woman that I saw in the grocery store parking lot after church. She was hunched over and...
Clerk: Stop right there.
Clerk: You can't help her.
Christian: What? Just like that? Why not?
Clerk: It's the Sabbath.
Christian: But...but...Jesus helped people on the Sabbath...I thought...
Clerk: (to co-worker) Hey Mack!
Clerk: This kid says that Jesus helped on the Sabbath!
Mack: Addendum L1310, Dolores!
Clerk: (muttering to herself as she rifles through paperwork) All these addendums. It used to be simple. Black and white...L1310. Okay, fine. You can help people on the Sabbath. Continue.
Christian: So you see...
Clerk: Wait, you did the paperwork all wrong. I've got to ask. Was she black?
Christian: What? Why, would that matter?
Clerk: Well if you filled out the Denominational 0489 properly, I wouldn't have to go through this with you. But since I don't know what the proper parameters are for your church, I'm going have to ask you a few questions about this woman.
Christian: A few?
Clerk: Just a couple to make sure that you're helping the right kind of person.
Christian: I can't believe this.
Clerk: Just tell me if I hit the mark on one of these.
Christian: I just wanted to help the lady carry her groceries.
Clerk: Was she black? Was she Hispanic? Was she Muslim? Was there a Hillary Clinton sticker on her car? Was there a Donald Trump sticker on her car? Did she have a Jesus fish on her car? Did she have a "In case of rapture, this car will be unoccupied" bumper sticker?
Christian: What does that have to do with anything.
Clerk: Well, if you had filled your D-0489 out correctly then I could tell you if you would be getting bonus points.
Christian: Bonus points?
Clerk: Was she a lesbian? Did she have any children? If so, were those children out of wedlock? Had she been divorced? If so, how many times? Was she poor? Would she make a respectable member of your church?
Christian: This is absurd.
Clerk: Miss, I am just trying to make sure that you're not transgressing anything here.
Christian: By helping someone?
Clerk: Better to be safe than sorry.
Christian: I think safety has stopped us from doing way too much.
Clerk: That's a nice sentiment. You should write fortune cookies, ma'am. What kind of clothes was she wearing? Did she have a dog? Was it a real dog or for all practical purposes, a cat? Where does she stand on Ryan Lochte? (Christian walks off) Did she seem like "one of us"?
Mack: Dolores! Dolores!
Clerk: Knock it off, Mack! I'm trying to finish this D-0489!
Mack: She's gone.
Clerk: Oh. Next!