Love can also at times be lonely. In Domenico Campagnola’s version of the story, the Samaritan seems little more than a speck within a much broader canvas, shunted off to the lower right corner of the scene. He’s trying to help the Jewish man onto his donkey. Unlike the Delacroix, here the beaten man is bigger than the Samaritan, who is trying to drag him to safety. It all seems so impossible. In this big broad world, what good can this one act of love possibly have? The Jew is near death, and his lifeless body is so heavy it seems unlikely the Samaritan will be able to succeed at his task of saving him. Others in the scene seem entirely indifferent, apparently even unconscious of the life and death struggle going on up the road. Why bother?
How often do I sometimes feel just overwhelmed by the enormity of the need out there—homeless people every 100 yards, or a culture of death so pervasive that standing up to it seemingly hopeless? Love requires perseverance even in the face of impending defeat. Do I have that perseverance? Do I have that drive?