Embracing compassion: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matt 25:40). Do you need any additional rationale for embracing compassion? When you care for those who suffer, you minister to the Lord, Himself! Jesus states this exhortation slightly differently, yet appeals with the same message in Matt 10:42 where He says, “ And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple – amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” Jesus is telling us that we have each been called to be compassionate to our fellow man, in the same manner as Jesus demonstrated compassion during His time on earth.
As humans, we are, by nature, social beings, meant to live in communion with each other. Therefore, we are called by Christ to have empathy for those in need. We are strengthened by the grace of Christ to step into the sphere of suffering of those in need to alleviate the suffering in any way that we can. Sometimes it is as simple as providing a listening ear, or a promise to pray for the person. At other times, the degree of compassion called for is quite intense. Yet God never asks us to take on more than we can handle with His grace. So why is embracing compassion so difficult for some people?
We can go back to the summer of 2014, and look at the humanitarian aid crisis that occurred at the southern border of the United States. Where was the compassion in those who shouted slurs at children? These people wanted to turn their backs on these small children who had walked many miles seeking safety from violence. I believe that it is difficult for people like this to embrace compassion because these people allow fears, doubts and past hurts to override their consciences. They cannot step into the sphere of suffering, to alleviate the suffering of another, without passing judgment because, they, themselves are in need of compassion.
When you come across a person who lacks compassion, step into the sphere of their suffering, without passing judgment, and pray for that person. By doing so, you will be embracing compassion.
What are some tangible ways that we can practice compassion? We’ll address the answer to that question, in our next four-part series of reflections on practicing compassion. There are many ways to practice compassion – Don’t miss them!
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