Love Until It Hurts

How many of us go out of our way to help others? Think about this. Of course, many of us will help others when it’s not too inconvenient. We’ll give a dollar to a homeless person when we pass them by because we won’t even miss that dollar. We’ll put a dollar in the church tray or offer a nominal stewardship donation to the church or some other charity because it makes us feel good, yet we won’t really miss the donation.

Yet, I want us to reflect on how many of us go out of our way to help others? How many strive to give in a sacrificial manner, giving in a way where it’s a challenge, giving our time, our money, and a part of ourselves when it’s quite inconvenient? Do we give when we really feel it, when we have to sacrifice something in order to give? Mother Teresa used to say, “Love until it hurts. I have found the paradox that if you love until it hurts, there will be no more hurt and only love.”

Think about the time when Jesus and his followers were observing people making donations to the Temple. Who does our Lord praise? The poor woman who offered two copper coins. Her donation was financially insignificant compared to others ,and yet Christ noted that her spirit surpassed most others because she gave despite having so little. Her giving was sacrificial. She may have had to deny herself something in order to make that offering.

God looks at the spirit in which we give; He looks at our generosity in relation to all that He has first given us. Who can outgive God? Ultimately, He is the One who has given us all we have. We are only stewards, caretakers of God’s gifts to us. Will we be good and faithful stewards, generously and sacrificially giving from what He has given us? Will we allow ourselves to be inconvenienced in our giving without getting annoyed? Can we give in a sacrificial manner, giving until it hurts while giving with joy? Saint Paul highlights that God loves a cheerful giver.

Let’s take this spirit of sacrificial, inconvenient giving and relate it to the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan. This is one of the most famous stories in the entire Bible, and many people will know the term “Good Samaritan” even if they don’t realize the context of the actual story. Webster’s Dictionary even defines the term “Good Samaritan” in a secular manner, as “a person who is generous to those in distress.”

We’re all familiar with the story itself. A man is walking from Jerusalem to Jericho and is attacked by robbers who steal everything he has, leaving him beaten and half dead. A priest happens to be walking by and when he sees the desperate man, the priest walks by on the other side. Someone who worked in the Temple of God came to the same place, and actually stopped and looked at the half dead man, but then passes by on the other side.

How is this possible? How could a priest who serves in the house of God simply walk past this person in need, showing no compassion or concern? How could someone who works in the temple, who is around the holy things of God, show no compassion or concern? Have any of us ever been in such a situation where we have seen someone in need and yet have rushed by, maybe muttering a prayer under our breath, but too occupied with whatever our plans we have and not interested in inconveniencing ourselves?

I’m afraid that too often when we hear this Gospel story, we relate to the Good Samaritan and think of some instance when we’ve showed compassion and offered help to someone in need. Yet, how often are we more like the priest and the temple worker? What excuses did the priest and temple worker use to justify their actions? Were they in a rush to get back to the Temple where they had to do God’s work, and didn’t want to dirty their hands with this mundane work? The priest may have even justified his actions by saying that if he touched a dead man, he would be considered unclean and wouldn’t be allowed to serve in the temple for a period of time.

Or maybe these two men who didn’t help the poor victim were sincerely afraid, seeing what happened to the helpless man and wanting to rush away from the robbers who might still be in the vicinity. Or was it that they just didn’t want to be inconvenienced. They were too full of themselves and their plans that they didn’t want to bother with this stupid man who allowed himself to be robbed and attacked.

Our minds can tempt us in many ways when there is an obvious need in front of us and we either ignore the need, justify our inactions, or are simply unwilling to go out of our way, to inconvenience ourselves with compassion and love, with sacrificial giving that may hurt.

Love until it hurts. Give in a sacrificial manner. Inconvenience yourself with compassion and mercy.

The Good Samaritan was a despised enemy of the Jews and yet, he casts aside and ignores any labels that may separate him from the half dead man. He sees a suffering human being and has compassion. This person in need is his brother, even if his brother has a different ethnicity, a different religion, a different identity.

And the Good Samaritan interrupts his travels, ministers to the man’s wounds, inconveniences himself by placing the half dead man on his own donkey and walking next to the man, risking the threat of encountering the very same robbers who tried to kill this man, and then taking him to an inn and caring for him, even to the point of telling the inn keeper “Whatever more you spend beyond the two days wages that I already gave you, I’ll be happy to repay on my return trip.”

The Good Samaritan represents the spirit of Jesus Christ. Our Lord sacrificially offers Himself to save a dying humanity. Christ takes our sufferings and our sins upon Himself, willingly accepting to endure the cross as a sacrificial lamb who wipes away the sins of the world. He then voluntarily endures death itself so that we ourselves don’t have to experience death. Christ is the Good Samaritan to a world that is lost and left half dead in our sins and brokenness.

Jesus loved until it hurt. Christ offered his life in a sacrificial manner. Our Lord revealed divine compassion and mercy, regardless of how inconvenient it is. How many of us will imitate and cultivate this spirit in our own lives – to help others even when its inconvenient, to give generously of our lives, to love in a sacrificial manner, even to love until it hurts.

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