Sunday the Fifteenth

“But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion (ἐσπλαγχνίσθη) at the sight [Luke 10:33].”
           One often hears the words nice and kind associated with compassion. Certainly, compassion involves dimensions of niceness and kindness. The actions of the Samaritan traveler, however, exhibit more than an offer of casual amenities.
          The Greek word σπλαγχνίζομαι, often translated into English as compassion, is rooted in the vocabulary of ancient Greek medicine and is rather gastric, visceral and intestinal in usage. The noun σπλάγχνον is used to name not only innermost feelings and thoughts dear to the core of one’s existence, but also the entrails, innards, or intestines! The verb used in this Sunday’s pericope, σπλαγχνίζομαι, literally speaks about the Samaritan’s ‘innards moving’ when he came upon the man in the ditch.
          σπλαγχνίζομαι signals a sense of urgency to act and has an uncanny way of dispelling distractions to tend to the needs of the present moment. There is no time to permit reason or laziness to dictate postponing action to a later time, the mythical ‘next Monday,’ or worse still ‘once I get my act together.’ One’s gut has been altered in an unmistakeable way that a fellow human being needs help and needs it now. While messy, awkward and uncomfortable at times, it is a matter of life and death for both soul and body. 

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