By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians are called to follow the example of the good Samaritan and not just look with compassion at those who suffer, but also draw near to them, Pope Francis said.

Like the priest and the Levite in Jesus’ parable, who pass by the injured man along the road and look the other way, Christians can sometimes be tempted to “take refuge behind dogmatisms to defend themselves from reality,” the pope said July 10 during his Sunday Angelus address.

Nevertheless, the Gospel “teaches us to follow Jesus, because following Jesus teaches us to have compassion — to see and to have compassion — to become aware of others, especially those who suffer, those who are in need, and to intervene like the Samaritan, not to pass by but to stop,” he said.

Before praying the Angelus prayer with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Luke.

The pope noted that St. Luke specifies the Samaritan was on a journey, meaning that “even though he had his own plans,” he did not “come up with an excuse” to not help the injured man.

“Let us think about this,” the pope said. “Isn’t the Lord teaching us to do just that? To look off into the distance, to our final destination, while paying close attention to the steps to take here and now in order to get there.”

Those who truly follow in Jesus’ footsteps, he continued, learn “to see and to have compassion” for others and do not spend their time “pointing fingers at others, comparing them to the priest or the Levite.”

Christians should not only “recognize when we have been indifferent and have justified ourselves,” but also pray and ask God “to help us overcome our selfish indifference” to become true followers of Christ, he added.

“This is the prayer that I suggest to you today,” the pope said: “Lord, that I might see and have compassion just like you see me and have compassion on me.”

Pope Francis concluded his address by encouraging Christians not only to give alms to the poor but also to look in their eyes and truly empathize with them.

“If you give alms without touching the reality, without looking into the eyes of the person in need, those alms are for you, not for that person,” the pope said.

“Think about this. Do I touch misery, even the misery that I am helping? Do I look into the eyes of the people who suffer, of the people that I help? I leave you with this thought — to see and to have compassion,” he said.