Earlier we discussed John Paul II’s reference to suffering as a “world” of its own. Similarly, he tells us, the world of human suffering calls for another world -- “the world of human love.” He summarily recalls Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan in which Christ wished to give an answer to the question: “Who is my neighbor?” Using this parable, John Paul II brings forth what characterizes a Good Samaritan. Here are some of his key points:
• This parable indicates what the relationship of each of us must be towards our suffering neighbor. We are not allowed to “pass by on the other side” indifferently; we must “stop” beside him. Everyone who stops beside the suffering of another person, whatever form it may take, is a Good Samaritan.
• The name “Good Samaritan” fits every individual who is sensitive to the sufferings of others, who “is moved” by the misfortune of another.
• If Christ, who knows the interior of a person, emphasizes this compassion, it means that it is important for our whole attitude toward others’ suffering.
• We must cultivate a sensitivity of heart, which bears witness to compassion towards a suffering person. Sometimes this compassion remains the only principal expression of our love for and solidarity with the sufferer.
• A Good Samaritan is one who brings help in suffering, whatever its nature may be. Hopefully the help is effective, but nevertheless, our whole heart must be in it. Doing so is a form of giving one’s very “I,” and opening this “I” to the other person.
• Every individual ought to feel as if called personally to bear witness to love in suffering.
Jesus demonstrated a special love and deep concern for the suffering people of his time. In the words of John Paul II: “He goes about ‘doing good,’ and the good of his works became especially evident in the face of human suffering. The parable of the Good Samaritan is in profound harmony with the conduct of Christ himself.”41
In conclusion, John Paul II states:
These words about love, about actions of love, acts linked with human suffering, enable us once more to discover, at the basis of all human sufferings, the same redemptive suffering of Christ.
Christ said: “You did it to me.” He himself is the one who in each individual experiences love; He himself is the one who receives help, when this is given to every suffering person without exception. He himself is present in this suffering person, since his salvific suffering has been opened once and for all to every human suffering.
And all those who suffer have been called once and for all to become sharers “in Christ’s sufferings,” just as all have been called to “complete” with their own suffering “what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.”
At one and the same time Christ has taught man to do good by his suffering and to do good to those who suffer. In this double aspect he has completely revealed the meaning of suffering.42
Understanding and Accepting The "Redemptive" Value of Suffering
Based on John Paul II's Salvifici Doloris
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