Jesus spoke to a teacher of the Law about the command: Love your neighbour as you love yourself. The man then asked: “And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29). Jesus answered the question by telling a story: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. A priest and a Levite saw him and passed by. … But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he took him to an inn and said to the innkeeper ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Then Jesus asked: Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers (Luke 10: 30-36).
Jesus’ story and his question totally changed the ideas of the teacher of the Law. The man wanted to know who his neighbour is. He wanted to know whom he was supposed to love as much as he loved himself, whether the person would be worthy of his love or not. But Jesus turns this around: Jesus focuses on the condition of the heart of the one who demonstrates love. “Which of these three acted as a neighbour? Which of these three had the heart of a neighbour?” The question is not, “Who is worthy of my love?” When Jesus looked at people, he noticed their need, regarded them with deep compassion and helped them. For example, He healed them (Matt. 14:14), fed them (Matt. 15:32), let the blind see (Matt. 20:34). It is wonderful to know that Jesus regards us with “deep compassion”. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live in us. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit has compassion with us. That is why He is called “the Comforter”.
Tony Campolo says loving your neighbour is not just about doing good to your neighbour, but also about bonding with the person in an emotional way. You have to feel the presence of Jesus in the person. If that doesn’t happen, your charity is humiliating. Then it may happen that you will praise yourself and think you are so wonderful because you help the person. If you sense Jesus in the other person, your only question will be whether you are worthy to do it, because then you know that you are doing it for Jesus himself. Jesus said that what you do to another, you do to Him (Matt. 25:40).
God felt “deep compassion” for us as lost souls and therefore He let his Son die for our sins. Jesus is our neighbour, because on the cross He forgot about Himself and provided in our need. He is our Compassionate Samaritan.
Our heavenly Father, fill us with your love, to such an extent that we shall also regard people in need with “deep compassion” and thus be a neighbour to them. Amen.