How Goes It with Your Compassion?
Preparing for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost: One Day before Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Lamentations 3:19-26
Old Testament: Lamentations 1:7-15
Gospel: Matthew 20:29-34
Psalter: Psalm 37:1-9
Old Testament: Isaiah 7:1-9
Gospel: Matthew 20:29-34
Lord God, friend of those in need, your Son Jesus has untied our burdens and healed our spirits. We lift up the prayers of our hearts for those still burdened, those seeking healing, those in need within the church and the world.
Hear our prayers that we may love you with our whole being and willingly share the concerns of our neighbors. Amen.
As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet, but they shouted even more loudly, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!” Jesus stood still and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him (Matthew 20:29-34).
Compassion: \ kəm-ˈpa-shən\ sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it (https://www.merriam-webster.com)
Every miracle of Jesus was a sign that the kingdom of God had come. Every healing was a glimpse of what God would do one day when that kingdom arrived in its fullness with the words of the book of Revelation finally fulfilled:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them and be their God;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4)
Every time Jesus encountered illness, disease, hatred, and injustice it was a reminder to him that God’s creation, though good, was not what it was supposed to be. Sin and brokenness seemed to rule the day… and the lives of those around him. It should not be a surprise, therefore, that the gospels tell us that Jesus had compassion. His mission inaugurating God’s kingdom was the beginning of the healing process in a sin sick world. Just as a physician will enter into the suffering of a patient in treating them, so Jesus, the Great Physician entered into the suffering of others in order to bring healing and restoration.
The word compassion comes from two Latin words: com “with, together,” and pati “to suffer.” Compassion means to suffer with. Those who feel compassion are able to enter into the suffering of others in some way and identify with it. Perhaps that is why support groups meet around common experiences—grief, addiction, cancer—a common brokenness that naturally brings understanding among the members of the group. It’s not that I can’t have compassion on someone who has an experience I have not, but it helps. What I can do, however, is attempt to put myself in their shoes and to reflect upon how such a malady may affect me personally. After all, all of us human beings have one thing in common: we are human and experience in various ways, the pain and mortality of our human situation. We still live on this side of Revelation 21:3-4. None of us is going to get out of life alive. That is our one human commonality.
So, how goes it with our compassion? As followers of Jesus, compassion is a necessary virtue; but in order to exercise that one virtue it requires others—patience, kindness, persistence, and understanding. We must also admit that it is easier to have compassion upon some folks rather than others. I find compassion readily available for my granddaughters, but more difficult for the crabby and nosey neighbor next door.
In Jesus’ day illness and disease were often viewed as a sign of God’s judgment. (Sadly, there are people who believe this today). In Jesus’ willingness to heal the two blind men, he was forcefully stating otherwise. The imperfections of this world are not a statement from God; rather acts of healing, reconciliation, love, and compassion are divine statements that God is in the business of restoration. The disciples of Jesus Christ are in the business of witnessing to that restoration. Compassion is a necessary tool in pointing to what God is now doing in the world through Jesus.
So, how goes it with your compassion? Are you… are we… offering the compassion of Jesus to those around us, whether they are easily loved or not? Whether it is a grandchild or the difficult neighbor next door? Can others say of us as Matthew says of Jesus,” She or He had compassion?”
May it be so.
PRAYER: Life-giving God, heal our lives, that we may acknowledge your wonderful deeds and offer you thanks from generation to generation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.