Mr. Gower: I owe everything to George Bailey… help him, dear Father.
Martini: Joseph, Jesus, and Mary, help my friend, Mr. Bailey.
Mrs. Bailey: Help my son, George, tonight.
Bert: He never thinks about himself, God, that’s why he’s in trouble.
Ernie: George is a good guy. Give him a break, God…
Mary: I love him, dear Lord. Watch over him tonight…
Janie: Please, God, something’s the matter with Daddy…
Zuzu: Please bring Daddy back.1
The opening lines of my favorite Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, reveal friends and family praying for George Bailey. This past Christmas season, Ben Fonua, thinking he would be forced to close his restaurant in January, asked residents of our community, in a social media post, to pray for his family. Ben is the owner of Leila’s Luau. The COVID-19 Pandemic hits local, family-owned eateries the hardest.
As reported by a KUTV news reporter, the response of our residents to Ben’s request is worth a second look.2 Just like the script in It’s a Wonderful Life, not only did the community offer prayers for a local businessman, in the end, many rushed to shore up his struggling family business by reaching into their own pockets.
February is love’s month. In the language of the ancient Greeks, there are at least seven different forms of love. February is most commonly linked to Eros, romantic love. May I focus your attention on Philia, brotherly love? Philia is one seeing need in the community and being willing to step forward and meet it. We all witnessed this kind of love in action when Ben requested prayers, and the community came to the rescue.
From my current position, I see Phila in action regularly. No wonder we love Syracuse!
Mayor Mike Gailey
1 It’s a Wonderful Life; Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra, Jo Swerling