Tuesday, 14th Week in Ordinary Time
When Jesus saw the crowd of ordinary men and women, he was moved with pity, he was moved with compassion. The Greek word splagchnistheis (moved with pity) connotes a very deep emotion. It is the strongest word for pity in the Greek language. It is formed from the word splagchna, which means bowels, and it describes the compassion which moves people to the deepest depths of their being. (William Barclay)
According to The Interpreter’s Bible, “Compassion is the pain of love.” Everything Jesus did was rooted in this pain of love. He helped the needy, he fed the hungry, he cured the sick, he forgave sinners, he comforted those in misery, he warned with stern words the proud and unrepentant, he taught the people who were like sheep without a shepherd… all this he did because he was moved with compassion – all had their root in the pain of love.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to be the face of God’s compassion. And our compassion should not only stay on the level of emotion. It is not enough, and it is not even Christian, if our compassion is just but a feeling. I may shed tears of pity for those who are like sheep without a shepherd, but if I have not been able to lift a finger to bring healing, or to bind the wounds of the broken and the devastated, or to fill the hunger and satisfy the thirst of my brethren, or to lighten the burden of the poor and the suffering, I have not really proclaimed the good news of Jesus – and my tears and emotions are worth nothing. Like Jesus, compassion should move me to do something. I ought not to fail in manifesting God’s loving mercy and compassion to our sisters and brothers who are in misery and poverty.
Pope Francis says, “In the wounds of the poor and suffering we touch the wounds of the poor Christ.” Jesus himself tells us, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers (and sisters) of mine, you did for me.”
We are asked to look at Jesus… and to look for him in the person of the poor. I hope and pray that we’d always remember what Pope Francis said: “You cannot take away the poor from Gospel. Without the poor, you will never understand the Gospel.” “You have to be identified with the poor, just like Jesus, for you to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for you to be good news to the poor.”