Paul Moore: Every volunteer ‘somebody’ has a face and name, thank God

In My Father’s House l Paul Thomas Moore

My wife Mary Louise (a.k.a. Marilou) is on the short list of people called when our parish needs food for receptions after funerals. However, she broke her shoulder on Dec. 1, and although recovery is proceeding in God’s grace and time, she is not yet back to full church-lady sandwich preparation mode.

How many times do we notice something that needs doing and think “I’m busy,” or “I’m tired,” or I’m whatever I need to be to get out of volunteering. “Somebody else can do it.”

So, when the reception organizer left a message recently asking for help for a funeral, I found myself saying to Mary Louise, “Don’t worry about it — somebody else will do it.” When she returned the organizer’s call, turned out they didn’t need more food after all, as “somebody” had stepped up . . . at which point Mary Louise and I agreed, “Thank God for somebody.”

It got us thinking, how many times do we notice something that needs doing and think “I’m busy,” or “I’m tired,” or I’m whatever I need to be to get out of volunteering. “Somebody else can do it.” But in truth, there is no such a person as “somebody.” The individual who fulfills the need or answers the call, that person has a name and a face, and is well-known to Him who knows all.


Perhaps that’s why the Lord chose to make immortal the parable of perhaps the most famous “somebody” of all — the Good Samaritan, the volunteer who helped the injured man left at the side of the road, even though as a Samaritan encountering a Jew, he might have been tempted to think it was none of his business. But as the Ghost of Marley reminded Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve, “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business.”

In the sense of being significant, everybody wants to be “somebody” as Terry Malloy, the one-time boxer portrayed by Marlon Brando despaired to his brother Charley (Rod Steiger) in the classic movie “On the Waterfront”: “I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody.”

In the end, Malloy was more than a contender. He sacrificed himself to receive a beating at the hands of henchmen in order to call out the hypocrisy of the misnamed mobster Johnny Friendly.

It must have been something about boxers, ’50s movies, and the “somebody” concept, because later in the decade Paul Newman starred in a film about real-life boxer Rocky Graziano titled “Somebody Up There Likes Me.”

Indeed, our heavenly Somebody loves us like nobody’s business.


Mary Louise and I have particular and recent reasons to be thankful to this particular Somebody and his holy henchmen (and women) here on earth. After we consulted with her surgeon about her shoulder in December, he decided that due to the nature of the break (or rather, breaks) he should operate immediately — the very next day. A “somebody” in his office by the name of Abby made it happen.

On our way to her surgery the next morning, we were pulling away from a traffic light when we heard a loud clunk. Mary Louise thought somebody hit us from behind. I put my foot on the gas to get the car out of the intersection, but it wouldn’t budge. I was thinking transmission, as the car is quite “mature.” Eventually, with God’s help (we believe that literally), the car limped around the corner just far enough to get us out of the rush hour traffic flow.

What now, though? My mind was racing, the clock spinning on my wife’s operation arrival time. We had to get “somebody” to take her to the hospital (still many miles and a bridge away). Our somebody in this case turned out to be Doug, the husband of Mary Louise’s work colleague and friend Teresa. Doug was there in minutes and my love was off, safe and sound, to the hospital.

While waiting behind with the car for the tow truck, I tried to think of “somebody” who could pick me up and take me to our other car after the tow truck dropped me off at the mechanic’s. That somebody’s last name just happened to be Lord.

I wish I could remember the name of my tow truck driver. He was a somebody, too. I do recall the name tattooed on the knuckles of his right hand: M-A-R-Y.

The surgery was a success, and on a lesser plan of relief (but still pretty sweet), our mechanic Chris called to say that it wasn’t a blown transmission but only a busted axle. Might not sound like much of a break, but he said the difference was hundreds instead of thousands.

Somebody up there likes us indeed, and we thank him for all of his somebodys.

PAUL THOMAS MOORE is lead coordinator—communications and media relations with Illinois Central College. He and his wife Mary Louise attend St. Mary of Lourdes in Germantown Hills. He can be reached at

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