Today at Holy Mass we read the parable of the Good Samaritan. It turns on one sentence. The Samaritan looked at the robbery victim “with compassion.”
Let’s try to think of that victim with compassion, too. Don’t we have to imagine that, at some point, the poor, wounded man asked, “Did they catch the thieves who did this to me?”
He might add: “If only they had asked me peacefully, I would gladly have helped them with some money. But to beat me and leave me half-dead? For this, they should do time in prison. And restore to me my money. Justice demands it.”
To which we can only imagine the Samaritan—who represents Christ—saying: “Amen, brother.
“I spoke to the centurion in Jericho. I gave him a full account of what I know. He has investigated the case, and his soldiers arrested a group of thieves. When you’re well enough, we’ll take you to see if you can identify them as the group that robbed and beat you.”
In other words: If we claim to have Christian compassion for victims of violence, that means: Doing the painstaking work required to see justice done.
Of course we know that no human effort can attain perfect justice. And we trust that God will make everything right in the end.
But when God helps someone who has been victimized see the wrongness of what has happened; when a victim of violence attains the clarity of mind necessary to describe the crime carefully and thoroughly, and then demand justice—that is a miracle of grace.
If we do not accompany that victim in the quest for justice, then any claims we make to Christian compassion are nothing but empty hypocrisy. A Good Samaritan who loves the suffering neighbor will fight for justice, and will not rest until something gets done. We won’t live in a world in which people can rob and beat innocent travelers and get away with it scot-free.