I love this painting, the Good Samaritan by Vincent Van Gogh. He painted it in 1850, while a patient in an asylum. He was struggling, and found solace and direction in his artistic meditations.
The painting is dense with meaning. The Samaritan is himself struggling, awkwardly pushing the ambushed and injured Jewish man onto his donkey. The Samaritan has given up his place of relative comfort on the donkey and has emptied his chest treating the man with oil, wine, dressings, and clothes. But the Samaritan man isn’t glorified. His face is in shadow, and his leg serves as a step-stool for the Jewish man.
The injured man doesn’t even appear to be particularly grateful to the Samaritan. His countenance is heavenward, which is more appropriate. The priest and the Levite, who should have stopped to help a fellow Jew, pass by on the road, ignoring the need and the struggle.
Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan after a Jewish lawyer asked, “Who is my neighbor?” After telling the Parable, Jesus asked “Which of these three proved to be a neighbor…?” The answer was, “The one who showed compassion toward him.”
Let us be compassionate toward our neighbors, regardless of where they are and regardless of their acknowledgement and regardless of the attention of others. The One who sees and remembers our compassion is He who taught us about compassion and showed the greatest compassion of all.