This month’s Characteristic of a Christian Steward is the Good Samaritan who shows us a laudable and sacrificial model of compassion.
Lyric: I will share your joy and sorrow ’til we’ve seen this journey through.
The Good Samaritan: A Model of Compassion in Service
by Deacon Tim Sullivan
The commandment to love your neighbor as yourself goes all the way back to the Old Testament. Jesus repeats it in Mark 12:31. In the Gospel of Luke, however, when Jesus is asked by a scholar of the law, “And who is my neighbor?,” Jesus greatly expands the understanding of neighbor.
A Jew would have understood “neighbor” to primarily refer to fellow Jews. In Jesus’ parable recounted in Luke 10:25-37, the Jewish man who is robbed on the way to Jericho is passed by a Jewish priest and a Levite, the two who should have been most likely to render assistance. A Samaritan, an enemy of the Jews, “moved with compassion,” as the parable says, stopped, dressed the wounds of the Jewish victim, took him to an inn and paid for his lodging. The Samaritan is the true neighbor.
The principle established in the New Testament is that every human being on the face of the earth is our neighbor. As St. Paul says in Acts 17:26, “He [God] made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth.” The human family shares a common kinship because we are all descendants of Adam.
In the Gospel of Matthew 5:44, Jesus says, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,” reinforcing the concept that everyone is our neighbor. St. Paul, in Romans 13:10, writes that “Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself,” then, means that your neighbor is yourself. All of humanity is so deeply interconnected that whatever injury or injustice happens to another in a real sense is personal to all of us. When we embrace this connection and take it into our hearts, we, too, like the Good Samaritan, are moved with compassion and motivated to offer assistance, even to our enemies.
Stewardship Service Challenges
Week 1: This week as we look forward to celebrating the birth of our nation, speak and act compassionately toward neighbors who have political opinions that differ from your own.
Week 2: This week challenge yourself to listen to someone who is experiencing a difficult transition such as the loss of a job, the death of a family member, the failure to achieve a goal, or frustration over their current circumstances. Reach out to them through the gift of your compassionate listening.
Week 3: This week, share your resources with those who are in need. Give of your time or material assets to an organization or charity that provides direct care to the poor or marginalized in our city.
Week 4: This week, be mindful of how the heat affects those who are homeless or without air conditioning. Check on elderly friends and neighbors, donate water to the homeless through Saint Mary’s social outreach program, or donate fans to those who need them.
Week 5: This week, as summer is ending and the new school year is near, remember all the children who do not have the basic school supplies to begin the school year. Be a good neighbor by donating clothing, paper, pencils, markers, glue, books and other educational items to low income schools.