He Had Compassion
Every Christian I have ever met believes that, as Christians, we are called to serve others. And there seems to be an infinite array of needs out there. It would not take much creativity to find needs around you to exhaust all your energy and resources.
Surely the same was true for Jesus. So, the question becomes “What to do?” “Who to help?” I’d like to take a hint from Sunday’s Gospel lesson. Matthew tells us that “When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Click here for the full passage.)
It begins with Jesus recognizing the condition of the crowds. “They were harrassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Clearly, this was not a “look at those poor saps” response. Jesus’ response was compassion. His response was not “why don’t they do better; try harder; suck it up; etc.” His response was compassion for their condition, regardless of how they got that way.
If we are going to serve as Jesus served, I think we need to begin there. Don’t be discouraged if compassion is not always the first thought that pops into your head. Instead, deliberately pause and pray for two things: first pray that God would give you His eyes to see others, and, second, pray for that person. Even if you can’t do anything at that moment, pray that God would “send laborers into that harvest” as Sundays Gospel tells us.
Godly service will not be drudgery or even reluctant, though sometimes it may begin that way. I believe that God will always bring us to a place of joy in service, but it may take some prayer and work to get from here to there!
By the way, a recent book and film was moving on this subject. “Same Kind of Different as Me” is a true story by Ron Hall tells the story of a wealthy art dealer who befriends a homeless man in hopes of saving his marriage. They are both transformed in the process. The movie by the same name is also good, but as usual, the book is better.
This column appeared in the June 14, 2020 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
If you are reading this at a different time, you may click here for the current eNews.