By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis on Sunday upheld the example of the Good Samaritan as a model for Christians, explaining that only by loving our neighbours as ourselves, do we show love for God, and at the same time express true religiosity and humanity.
Addressing the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus, the Pope reflected on the Gospel reading of the day which recounts the parable of the Good Samaritan, a parable the Pope described as a treasure.
Mercy is the true face of love
“Mercy towards a human life in a state of need is the true face of love” Pope Francis said, explaining that it is by loving the other that one becomes a true disciple of Jesus and that the face of the Father is revealed.
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” he quoted from Luke the evangelist, highlighting the fact that God’s Commandment to love one’s neighbour for Christians is a single and coherent rule of life.
And commenting further on the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Pope pointed out that it is not us, on the basis of our criteria, who can define who is neighbour and who is not, but it is the person in need who must be able to recognize who his neighbour is, that is, " The one who treated him with mercy”.
Pope Francis also reflected on the fact that it was no coincidence that Jesus chose the Samaritan as a positive figure.
“We know that the Jews treated the Samaritans with contempt, considering them strangers to the chosen people”, he said pointing out that in this way he strove to overcome prejudice, showing that “even a foreigner, even one who does not know the true God and does not attend his temple, is able to behave according to His will, feeling compassion for his brother in need and helping him with all the means at his disposal”.
The key of Christian life, the Pope reiterated, is in one’s capacity to show compassion.
If you lack compassion, ask yourself whether your heart has turned to ice
“If before a person in need you do not feel compassion, if your heart is not moved, it means that there is something wrong,” the Pope said.
“If you cross a homeless person on your path, and you pass by without looking at him, or thinking ‘he’s drunk,’ do not ask yourself whether that man has had too much to drink, but whether your heart has stiffened and turned to ice,” he continued.
Pope Francis concluded with a prayer to the Virgin Mary to help us to increasingly live that inseparable bond that exists between our love for God the Father, and a concrete and generous love for our brothers and sisters, and to give us the grace to grow in compassion.