Sunday, June 9, 2013

“Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential”

"Compassion begins at home, and it is not how much we do but how much love we put in that action. Do not think that love has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired." Mother Teresa

(Gospel Text: LK 7:11-17)
Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain,
and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.
As he drew near to the gate of the city,
a man who had died was being carried out,
the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.
A large crowd from the city was with her.
When the Lord saw her,
he was moved with pity for her and said to her,
“Do not weep.”
He stepped forward and touched the coffin;
at this the bearers halted,
and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!”
The dead man sat up and began to speak,
and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming,
“A great prophet has arisen in our midst, ”
and “God has visited his people.”
This report about him spread through the whole of Judea
and in all the surrounding region.

Vulnerable, destitute, defenseless - the situation of a widow in ancient times could be heartbreaking. Without a husband to protect and provide for her, a widow faced danger and poverty. This is why throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, God reminded his people to go out of their way to look after widows. A widow’s great comfort, of course, was a son if she had one. Filling the role of provider and protector in the place of his father, a son could guarantee safety and security. But what would happen if a widow’s only son died?

In the Gospel reading, Jesus interrupted a funeral procession to bring a young man back to life and give him back to his widowed mother. He had come to help the weakest and most vulnerable!

Whether or not we are widows, these readings tell us something important about God. Have you ever felt vulnerable or defenseless? Have you ever felt powerless in the face of circumstances outside your control? God cares! He who raised up the widow and orphan cares for you! He looks on you with compassion and says, “Do not weep” (Luke 7:13) .

Jesus Christ continues His life through His Body, His Church, of which we are all members. Jesus loves the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable in all of their manifestations. The widow today in the gospel reading was one of the poor. Soon, Pope Francis will release his first encyclical letter. The word encyclical means circulating letter. Reports are it will be entitled - Blessed are the Poor. Poverty is about more than money in the Catholic tradition.  

Those who love the poor - as Jesus loved the poor- are given to us as a gift and instruction manual. They teach us how to live and to love. They are a sign of the kingdom, making it present in their wake. They love in deed and truth.

Pope St Leo the Great wrote of Jesus: "He took the nature of a servant without stain of sin, enlarging our humanity without diminishing his divinity. He emptied himself”. I guess the question for all of us today is -  Will we?

Will we allow the truth revealed in the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ to become our pattern for daily living? Will we cooperate with the grace of conversion and be emptied of ourselves for others?

When we empty ourselves, He comes and takes up His residence within us. Then, we can become His arms, embracing the world; His legs, still walking its dusty streets; and His Heart, still beating with the Divine Compassion manifested in Jesus Christ, the One who became the least of these in order to bring all of us into the full communion of Love.

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