Good Zeal

Supplies on the Journey Part 10

Stained glass window image of compassionAll of the supplies on the journey thus far prepare the way for being a compassionate person.

What is compassion? In Hebrew, the noun for compassion, “rachamin” refers to the womb of God or movement of God’s deepest self in response to pain, mercy distress of others. If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; for is this his only covering; it is the cloak for his body. What will he sleep in? If he cries out to me I will listen; for I am compassionate” (Ex 22:25-26).

There are various words in biblical Greek for compassion as a verb. Some are: to suffer with another; to have mercy; to show kindness. And the Latin for “compassion” means “to suffer with”. All of these meanings for “compassion” beckon us to action.

Compassion is rooted in biblical spirituality and is focused on attention to action. “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.” Most translation use the Greek word “eleeo” “which means to have mercy, to show kindness by beneficence, or assistance. “Eleeo” can be translated as “compassionate.” We are called to be “compassionate”. Just as God is moved from the depths of God’s Being, we are called to be moved from the depths of our being and then to take action to help.

Jesus’ whole life was an outpouring of compassion. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt 9:36). Compassion was an action word for Jesus. He was moved to feed the hungry (15:22). “He had compassion on the crowds…and healed their sick” (14:14). Compassion moved Jesus to raise the widow’s son from the dead (Lk 7:13).

In Matthew 25:31-41, Jesus tells us what compassion does. It feeds the hungry, gives drink to the thirsty, welcomes the stranger, clothes the naked, and cares for the sick.

“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share brokenness, fear, confusing and anguish…compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”
(Thomas Merton, You are the Beloved: Daily Meditation for Spiritual Living.)

Private Ponderings
• The person in my life who stands out as living the compassionate life is______________
• The biggest challenge facing me regarding compassion is __________________

By Sister Marie Leonard, OSB

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