“Hineni” – a six-letter Hebrew word – I think explains Sam Miller the best. It was the answer that Moses and the ancient prophets always gave the Lord whenever they were called to do his bidding. Hineni means no matter how arduous the task, how difficult the calling, how pressed for time you may be, always answer hineni – I am ready to help.
That has been Sam Miller’s creed, his very religion all his life – to give help to everyone who needed it. I never went to Sam with a genuine human need when he did not respond with hineni – how can I help?
Sam, in following this code, did not have to wait for his reward. It was the smile of the sick, the look of hope from the poor, the momentary happiness of the unfortunate.
A man is never rich in what he owns but only in what he values. Sam’s values were his true wealth.
I will always be grateful to Sam for teaching me that no matter how tired, no matter how pressed, no matter how harried, whenever someone in need – anyone -- calls for help, answer hineni. That word has kept our civilization alive.
What Sam and I had as friends I only wish that everyone could find with another person from a different faith. I will always cherish the memory of my mother and Sam in her kitchen every Sunday morning praying together – hand in hand – and then enjoying the bagels that he would bring with coffee.
While Sam and I have differed on some issues, I don’t think it is possible for two men to respect and care about each other more than we did. Did we bring all the Catholics and Jews to a similar relationship? Hardly, but I like to think we brought some love and understanding on a personal level to the relations that have been strained for 2,000 years. I think that our God was pleased, the God of our common heritage, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God Jesus preached.
I pray that my friend now rests in peace in the presence of a loving God.
Anthony M. Pilla was auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland from 1979 to 1980 and bishop of Cleveland from 1980 to 2006