Tuesday, July 9, 2013

“Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.”

"Compassion is not just feeling with someone, but seeking to change the situation. Frequently people think compassion and love are merely sentimental. No! They are very demanding. If you are going to be compassionate, be prepared for action!" - Desmond Tutu

Gospel text: (MT 9:32-38)
A demoniac who could not speak was brought to Jesus,
and when the demon was driven out the mute man spoke.
The crowds were amazed and said,
“Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”
But the Pharisees said,
“He drives out demons by the prince of demons.”

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages,
teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness.
At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.”

Pity. Some of us cringe when we hear that word! Once meant to convey sincere compassion for the sufferings of others, that noun now struts through our language a little contemptuously, often signifying a feeling of superiority or condescension. That surely is not the “pity” that moves Jesus’ heart in today’s Gospel reading—or has ever moved him!

The pity that Jesus feels for us is best described as compassion or caring. He feels sadness because of the pain that sin causes us. He looks upon us, and his entire being is moved to help us: to forgive, to heal, to ease our pain. Just think of how he was moved to take on himself the sin of the whole world! This is the ultimate display of Jesus’ pity. No syrupy sentiment, it is passionate, almost fierce in its readiness to do anything—even suffer and die—so that we could be freed from our pain.

So often, sin causes us to feel guilty and ashamed. Like Adam and Eve, we want to hide from God.

Our sin doesn’t make God hate us. No, he seeks after us, always calling out, “Where are you?” He suffers with us and he longs for us to experience his gentle kindness. Moved with pity, he longs to tend to our wounds, remove our guilt, and build us up in his love.

Can you believe that Jesus looks at you with love for you shining in his eyes? Close yours for a minute and try to picture what that looks like. See how much he cares. Your concerns matter to him, and he is intensely, profoundly eager to soothe you, to help you, to free you. For each of us, that care looks different. And it may not look exactly as you imagine it. But it is real, and it has the power to reshape your very heart.

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