“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”― Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen: (1932–1996: Dutch-born Catholic priest and writer who authored 40 books on the spiritual life)
Gospel Text: (MT 12:14-21)
The Pharisees went out and took counsel against Jesus
to put him to death.
When Jesus realized this, he withdrew from that place.
Many people followed him, and he cured them all,
but he warned them not to make him known.
This was to fulfill what had been spoken through Isaiah the prophet:
Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved in whom I delight;
I shall place my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not contend or cry out,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory.
And in his name the Gentiles will hope.
We get an insight into the inner world of Jesus in this text. In his use of the words of the prophet Isaiah we see Jesus placing images around his inner compassion – images that help us to understand its force and depth. For Jesus compassion is an uncontainable force within, moved by the very Spirit of God and oriented completely to the care of others. It flows out to heal, to cry out for justice, to support the broken and uphold the weak. It is a force that does not place burdens on people, but rather is exercised gently and often quietly. And perhaps most importantly, it not only brings healing in the present moment, but it brings hope for the future.
Like those in today’s gospel story and indeed like God’s people all through history, we often find ourselves in deserted and isolated places: illness, failed projects, social rejection or through our own selfishness. Such losses can leave us depleted and feeling a deep need for healing so that we might ‘enter’ into life in a more holistic way once again.
Thus the great power of hope. We need this powerful inner force all through the journey of life and in today’s gospel we see evidence to encourage us. No matter what the need, no matter how desperate we feel and no matter how unprepared, he is ready to meet us and to heal us.
With such assurance, fuelled by hope, we know that we will be nourished and sustained for the journey, even for the journey though the valleys of darkness and violence that we see so often in our world. He is already there in its midst, and he awaits us with compassion and healing.