Taking Care of Family

Have you ever been there for a family member during a time of strife or an emergency? How did you react? Did you rush right over to help or did you just blow that person off and ignored him?


How do you respond to a stranger going through a difficult time? Do you respond or do you feel since they are not family, it was okay to just walk on by?   Why do we do this? Is compassion dying, and if so, why? How hard is it to care about others, especially those we have never met before?


In the book of Luke 10:25-37, we are given a story about helping someone in need. This is a beautiful example that we all should put into action in our own lives. It is the story of the Good Samaritan. A man is lying on the road after he was beaten and robbed. He was probably left for dead. Three men had an opportunity to help this man: a priest who went to the other side of the road and walked on by, a Levite who also passed the man by, and a Samaritan who took the time and stopped to see if the man was okay. He stopped and looked at this man, was moved by the man’s circumstance and then he took action. He not only took care of the man, but he took him to an inn to recover and then paid for his care. He showed compassion to someone he never met. He was “moved” to help this man out.


Compassion is defined as having sympathy and concern for a person who is suffering or going through hard times. What a great word, but the meaning is worthless if we fail to put it into action.


Jesus is our example of compassion throughout the gospel. He begins by telling us in Luke 10:25-27: “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered: ” ‘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.'”


It also mentions several times that Jesus took action because he was moved by compassion. Some examples are: In Matthew 9:36: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Another supporting verse is Matthew 14:14: “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” He even left us instructions to follow in Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”


So where do you stand? It all depends whether you take his word seriously or if you refuse to follow his advice. Some people are of the opinion that they only help their own family. But you need to ask yourself who is my family? It is how you define family that will determine how you will respond during a crisis or need. Do not pigeon-hole yourself into a corner by shutting others out because they are not blood relatives.


My family is more than blood relatives. My family includes everyone. I believe we are all linked together and we need to look out for one another. Yes, there are members of my family who are poor, who are devastated, who are ill, but they are my family and they need my help. I need to reach out to them and take care of them during these times. It is an obligation I am being asked to fulfill.


How then do I follow the instructions Jesus gave us? I need to understand the purpose behind the instructions. In order to do so, I need to put myself into the position of the man that was attacked and left for dead. How would I want to be treated if such a crime happened to me? I would like to think someone who passes by would stop to see if I was okay and if I needed help, that person would genuinely be concerned for my well-being and offer it to me. I would welcome it.


Now, how would I respond if I was the one who discovers the man on the road? I would stop and do what I can for this person. I would access his needs and then address them as best as I could and call for help. In other words, I would take action not just murmur words of concern. It all hangs on the follow-through.


It is easy to mouth words of sympathy or concern, but to actually do something about the situation at hand is another story. Some may not want to get involved, some may refuse to stop, but there are the rare few who act first and jump in to save whomever they can.


Take a moment and think of your fellow man. Doing something for someone in need can refresh your soul and save a life (possibly two). Open your heart and let others in. Pain and suffering are all around us every day. Someone may be drowning in front of you and calling out desperately for your rescue. Someone may be hanging on by a thread waiting for that passerby to stop and help. It is our responsibility to take care of our family and one life is too important for us to refuse to help or choose to ignore someone’s pleas.


Do it because we are all a member of the same family. Do it because our Lord asked us to watch out for one another. Do it from a viewpoint of love. Let yourself be moved by compassion and save a life. You can do this if you operate on the principle of loving one another. Compassion flows freely when you do this.


So look around you and see who is in need. It may be someone needs us to listen to their story, or someone needs financial assistance, or just needs a friend. It isn’t always a disaster that should catch our eye, sometimes it is the beginning of the storm that we need to focus on first and possibly avert a disaster.


You may be wondering how you can help. There are so many ways. You can go to a nursing home and read to the patients. You can donate to a food pantry. Volunteer on a crisis line or a woman’s shelter. Be a big brother or sister to a child in need of love. Take someone in who needs a place to stay and offer them a warm meal and a warm smile. You can become a foster parent. You can find ways to help. A little compassion can go a long way and can heal so many. Your reward is a full heart.


Reach out whenever you can and then look up above and thank Jesus for teaching us how to love and how to feel compassion for others. Then remind yourself that Jesus loved us enough to save us by dying on the cross for us. Remember how he hears us and listens to our pleas for help. Remember that he answers us and heals us because of his great compassion. Now in turn we should be grateful for that compassion and follow his lead. It is family after all and He is the head of our family.

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