16 April 2015

I was thirsty and you gave me Dr Pepper

After sitting through four hours of tedious lectures - in Italian - in the morning, the last thing a student of canon law wants to do is study canon law shortly thereafter. The return of beautiful spring weather to Rome does not help this situation, but it does a make a good excuse to go for a long walk, especially when one could use a few additional cans of Dr Pepper.

For the past several months, I have had two sources for acquiring the King of Beverages here in the Eternal City. The first of the stores carries it only haphazardly, but the second store carried it in stock most every day. Notice I wrote of the second store in the past tense.

For inexplicable reasons, the second of the stores - which had carried Dr Pepper both at a cheaper price and in greater quantities than the first store - no longer carries my favorite soda, even though I went in two or three times a week to buy whatever was on the shelf.

So it was that I set out on my seven mile round trip walk to the first of the stores in hopes of buying at least a few cans. Thankfully, the store had ten cans of Dr Pepper and one can of A & W root beer (which I also bought).

On the way back to the Casa Santa Maria I passed by a man who had plopped himself on the sidewalk to beg from passersby. I do not generally give money to the beggars in Rome - most of whom are false - but if they ask for something in particular, I provide it if I can (a man once asked for a blanket and I would have bought one for him, but I'm still not sure where to buy one within the city).

Seeing the cans in the bags I carried at either side of me, the man asked not for money, but for a can of Coca Cola. I took out a can of Dr Pepper instead and gave it to him, mentioning that it was "similar" to Coca Cola (a terrible comparison, to be sure, but the Italians do not really have another soft drink with which to compare it - as if Dr Pepper can be compared to anything else!). The man seemed not to understand Italian - or English - but after a few attempts, I think he understand.

As I gave him the can of Dr Pepper, I recalled Jesus words, "I was thirty and you gave me drink" (Matthew 25:35), and that "whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward" (Matthew 10:42).

I do not know if the man is a disciple of Jesus, but I hope my gift this afternoon was for him, to borrow the slogan from the 1950s, a "Friendly Pepper Upper." I do not expect him to understand the significance of the gift I gave him, but I hope he enjoys it as much as I do.