My topic today is compassion because Jesus says in today’s Gospel that the Good Samaritan was moved with compassion when he saw the victim lying in the ditch. I will share 3 short stories about compassion.
Several years ago, in a big city far, far away, there was a little girl named Sheila who wanted a puppy. So, she went to the Pet Store to buy one. She saw one for $45, one for $60 and one for $90. She said to the store owner, “All I have is $4.79.” He said, “Please excuse me for a moment.” And he went into the back room of his store. He came back with a little puppy and said, “You can have this one for $3.00. It has a crooked leg, and no one wants to buy it.” Sheila said, “I would like that puppy because I have a bad leg too.” Then she showed him the brace on her leg. Sheila said, “I will take him because that little puppy is going to need someone like me who understands him. God has prepared me well to help someone with a bad leg. God has prepared me well.”
My second story about compassion concerns the Jericho Road. I would like to talk about the Jericho Road because the Good Samaritan parable happened on the Road to Jericho.
The Jericho Road is the seventeen-mile road that connects the city of Jerusalem to the village of Jericho. Jerusalem is located on a mountain, namely Mount Zion, and the road drops 3600 feet in those seventeen miles. It is a steep, winding, remote road that for centuries has been a place of robberies - such as the robbery in today’s gospel. It is seventeen miles of violence and hostility. It is the highway of suffering. For us today the Jericho Road is a symbol…YES!
It is a symbol for suffering in today’s world. The Jericho Road is a symbol of international violence and domestic violence. It is a symbol for cancer and blindness and memory loss. It is a symbol of people suffering with anxiety and depression. It symbolizes people who are hungry and people who are homeless. It symbolizes human trafficking and racial bias and religious persecution. The Jericho Road is any place where people are robbed of their dignity and robbed of their freedom and robbed of their value as human beings.
But the Jericho Road also symbolizes compassion. The Good Samaritan was walking down that road and he felt pity for the victim in the ditch. The Good Samaritan was moved with compassion for the victim even though the victim was Jewish. The victim was like an enemy because he was a Jewish person and Jews, and Samaritans did not like each other. The Jewish Bible has the Law and the Prophets, and the Samaritan Bible has the Law but not the Prophets. The Samaritan went to the side of the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he took him to an inn and cared for him.
The priest and the Levite saw the victim and kept right on walking. They did not want to get involved. But Jesus wants us to be Good Samaritans and get involved whenever we see a person who is hurting.
In Chapter Six of Luke’s Gospel Jesus says, “Be compassionate as your heavenly Father is compassionate.” Jesus himself showed great care and concern for people who were hurting. His heart was moved with pity, and he got involved. He went to the side of the lepers, the blind, the grieving, the sick, the deaf, and the dying.
I will mention just one incident. Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath Day, and he saw a man there with a withered hand. The Pharisees watched Jesus closely to see if he would heal the man. They wanted to accuse him of working on the Sabbath Day because their law said that no work is allowed on the Sabbath Day. Jesus healed the man to show everyone that the Law of Charity is a higher law. The Law of Charity is higher than the Sabbath Law.
Jesus is the compassionate Son of our Compassionate God. And today our church keeps reminding us that we are Children of God. And she keeps calling us to do the works of God the Father and God the Son. She calls us to have gentle hearts and hearts of kindness and concern for those who are hurting.
Our church challenges us to imitate the Good Samaritan and go to the side of everyone who is hurting on the edge of the road of life. Our lives contain many roads which are like the Jericho Road. We will meet many people who are hurting no matter which road we take. And as we meet them, we need to keep in mind that the law of love is the highest law.
That is the lesson that Jesus gives us in today’s Gospel. The law of love is the highest law.
No matter how many laws we have, the law of love is the highest law.
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