A lesson in discipleship

Packers player lives the lesson

A member of the Green Bay Packers received unexpected accolades recently when he was seen pushing a wheelchair-bound passenger through the Appleton International Airport.

Running back Aaron Jones was returning to Green Bay from Texas May 28 when he noticed an elderly woman on the same connecting flight from Chicago who needed assistance. Not only did Jones help carry her bags off of the plane, he pushed her through the airport to the baggage claim area, where family members waited for her.

It was a simple gesture that meant a lot to the woman, Nancee Lingg, 82, who, according to Packers.com, traveled from Texas to attend the graduation ceremony at Xavier High School in Appleton.

While witnessing the Good Samaritan gesture, Monica Allen (@MonicaAllen11) snapped a photo of Jones pushing Lingg in her wheelchair, shared it on her Twitter account and wrote, “Just watched Packers Aaron Jones push a random lady through the Appleton airport because there was (nobody) there to push her. GO PACK GO.”

Allen’s photo has been reposted nearly 4,000 times and reported on ESPN. Jones, a 2017 fifth-round draft pick from the University of Texas-El Paso, became an instant celebrity.

On May 30, Jones spoke to a locker room full of reporters about the turn of events.
“A lady was sitting next to me, across the row when we were getting off the plane,” he told reporters. “I saw she needed help with her bags. She had a cane, she was dragging her bags, and I was like, ‘Do you need help?’”

He carried her bags off of the plane and when a flight attendant told Lingg to wait for someone to arrive to push her with a wheelchair, Jones again volunteered to help.
“I asked if she wanted me to push her and she said yes. I pushed her down to where her daughter was,” he said. No doubt, Jones would have been content to have the episode go unnoticed, but this is Green Bay Packers country.

This simple act of kindness is a great example for Catholics in the Diocese of Green Bay of how to live out the life of a missionary disciple. Stepping out of our comfort zones and exposing our vulnerabilities is a challenge that all Christians are asked to take as we seek to embrace missionary discipleship.

Jesus tells us in Matthew’s Gospel that we are the salt and light of the world. “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt 5:16).

In her column, Julianne Stanz writes about the seven Ds of discipleship. She quotes Pope Francis, who says that “being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey.”

It can even happen at an airport.

Aaron Jones wasn’t expecting publicity from his actions. “It’s just something that anybody else would do,” he said. Let us be mindful of the people around us and bring the love and light of Jesus to them. Our acts of charity won’t go viral on social media, nor should they. But they will surely be recognized by the Father, who “sees in secret” (Mt 6:4).