Do you have trouble with having compassion for certain people?
At its core, every divine vocation follows this command: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Who is your neighbor? Not just your family or friends (“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” Matthew 5:36) Your neighbors are also the ones you don’t notice, the ones you would never want to talk to, and those whom you assume wouldn’t want to talk to you — In a word, everyone.
Yes, we are to love every single person with an agape love which is an unconditional, self-sacrificing, active, volitional, and thoughtful love.
How does this play out in ordinary life? God gives us countless examples of loving one another, but the story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus tells is one of my favorites:
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
The Samaritan should have despised the man, and the man would have despised him back had he been conscious. Nevertheless, the Samaritan man saw the beaten man’s helplessness. He had compassion on him, and treated him as he would have treated himself.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” ~Philippians 2:1-4
Earlier this week I mentioned my stronghold I am actively working on, which is selfishness. This parable seems fitting for me to meditate upon since it is exemplary of the type of commitment to self-sacrificing love I wish to show in my own life.