FOR today’s Gospel, one of the points for prayer that made a lasting impression on me was made by Fr. Howard Gray, SJ, during a retreat.
He said that a core message of the Parable of the Good Samaritan is the building of a network of compassion in caring for the wounded victim, roping in the innkeeper and his animal.
The Gospel begins with a head question from the scholar of the law on what is the greatest commandment in scripture, to which Christ gives a response that focuses on love of God and love of neighbor.
Then the final piece in the puzzle, the Parable of the Good Samaritan and Christ, closes with the prescription: “Go and do likewise.”
It’s been said that the experience of learning involves the head, the heart and the hands. This is central to Ignatian spirituality (“love is best expressed in deeds”) and a key element in Jesuit education, specifically the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm—that the expression of learning is through action.
How do we build a network of compassion?
In the “Profile of the Graduate at Graduation” of the Ateneo de Manila High School, what is known as the 5Cs (compassion, Christ-centered, committed, conscience, competent), the graduate is hoped to “have been formed into a young man who… has compassion for others, especially the poor and disadvantaged—a compassion that leads him to a life of service and work for justice and peace…”
In the effort to implement a program that would develop the 5Cs among students, importance was given to the outreach programs of the school, with age-appropriate programs from first to fourth year.
The final program in senior high school is the Tulong Dunong (TD) program, in which students are given the responsibility to tutor Grade 6 students once a week throughout the school year.
The home visit and educational tour are two special features of the program. The home visit helps the seniors enter the world of their students. The educational tour demonstrates responsibility as high school students take the Grade 6 pupils to museums and parks, usually via public transportation.
In the exit interviews of seniors that I conducted in 1995, TD was cited overwhelmingly, nine out of 10, as the most memorable and life-changing experience in their four years in the high school.
Building a network of compassion, as Fr. Gray puts it, is the core lesson of the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan, upon seeing the victim, “was moved with compassion at the sight.”
He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds, and bandaged them. The eye of his heart saw the victim’s plight and his hands went to work.
He then enlisted the help of “his own animal” and the innkeeper. It is the building of this network of compassion that integrates the learning of the head-heart-hands.
When the Lord tells the scholar of the law to “go and do likewise,” it is a prescription not just for this one man, but for all of us—to build a network of compassion.
Last week, for two days, our work with public schools focusing on Senior High School which started this school year with Grade 11, brought us to all six of the congressional districts of Quezon City, where we held a Recruitment Caravan attended by close to 9,000 public school students and hundreds of parents, teachers and principals.
We pitched the four public Senior High Schools that we helped open, in collaboration with the local government and the Department of Education’s Division Office in Quezon City.
We emphasized that these schools are fruits of partnerships between the public sector on the one hand and the private sector on the other, including industry leaders in each of our four schools (Media Arts, Performing Arts, Sports and Maritime).
Citing these partnerships and the presence of their parents, teachers and principals, we told the thousands of students that these alliances are formed and are there for them—to nurture dreams, knowing there are schools that can help them make these dreams a reality.
This is an effort to build a network of compassion on an institutional level. But in the end it is the men and women of compassion that make this network compassionate—men and women who, in Ignatius’ “tip,” will enter the door of our youth in the public schools and make possible dreams and the fulfillment of these dreams.
Fr. James O’Brien, SJ, the founder of TD, always said that the program’s success in transforming the lives not just of the students in the public schools, but of the Ateneo seniors as well, was how the experience allows poverty to have a face— that of the young public school student who is tutored and cared for.
It is the eye of the heart that brings together the head and the hands, after which we follow Christ’s prescription to “go and do likewise.” Applying ourselves, in the words of Ignatius, “totus ad laborem,” giving ourselves totally to the work, with hearts, heads and hands building a network of compassion.