We know the parable of the Good Samaritan is a lesson to teach us that we must love our neighbor, and that there’s no one in the category of non-neighbor, but beyond that, Pope Francis asked today, have we also learned the parable’s lesson that God treats us with the compassion of the Samaritan?
“In the gestures and the actions of the Good Samaritan we recognize God’s merciful action in the whole history of salvation. It is the same compassion with which the Lord comes to meet each one of us: He does not ignore us, He knows our sorrows; He knows how much we need help and consolation. He comes close to us and never abandons us. Each one of us should ask himself the question and answer in his heart: ‘Do I believe this? Do I believe that the Lord has compassion for me, just as I am, a sinner, with so many problems and so many things?’ Think of this and the answer is: ‘Yes!’ But each one must look into his heart to see if he has faith in this compassion of God, of the good God who comes close, who heals us, who caresses us. And if we refuse Him, He waits: He is patient and is always at our side.”
This was Pope Francis’ reflection as he continued the theme of mercy in the general audience held today in St. Peter’s Square.
The parable gave the Pope the chance to reiterate one of his most frequent warnings:
“It is not automatic,” he said, “that one who frequents God’s house and knows His mercy is able to love his neighbor. It is not automatic! One can know the whole Bible, one can know all the liturgical rubrics, one can know all the theology, but from knowing, loving is not automatic: loving has another way, intelligence is needed but also something more … The priest and the Levite saw, but ignored; looked but did not provide. Yet true worship does not exist if it is not translated into service to one’s neighbor.”
The Pontiff added:
“What does it mean to ignore man’s suffering? It means to ignore God! If I do not approach that man, or that woman, that child, that elderly man or elderly woman that is suffering, I do not come close to God.”
Compassion is the center of the parable, the Pope suggested, centering on this word that means “to share with”:
The Samaritan “‘had compassion,’” Francis said, “that is, his heart, was moved; he was moved within! See the difference. The other two ‘saw,’ but their hearts remained closed, cold. Instead, the Samaritan’s heart was attuned to God’s heart itself. In fact, ‘compassion’ is an essential characteristic of God’s mercy.”
God “shares with” us, the Holy Father continued. “He suffers with us; He feels our sufferings.”
The Samaritan’s concrete, personal actions teach us “that compassion, love, is not a vague feeling, but it means to take care of the other even to paying in person,” Francis said. “It means to commit oneself, taking all the necessary steps to ‘come close’ to the other, to the point of identifying oneself with him: ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Behold the Lord’s Commandment.”
“This parable is a stupendous gift for all of us, and also a commitment,” the Holy Father concluded. “Jesus repeats to each one of us what He said to the Doctor of the Law: ‘Go and do likewise’ (v. 37). We are all called to follow the same path of the Good Samaritan, who is a figure of Christ: Jesus bent over us, made Himself our servant, and thus He saved us, so that we too are able to love as He loved us, in the same way.”
Article written by Kathleen Naab
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