“Compassion is at the core of our mission.”
As we continue to focus on our mission, we keep returning to this theme of compassion. It is actually a theme that has recurred repeatedly among us as a church community over the years.
I thought about it again as Sara was preaching recently, and I wrote the words above as she spoke. Speaking on mercy, she pointed out that the Latin word for mercy (miscordia) literally means ‘miserable heart’ – that doesn’t sound too encouraging! But she quoted a Catholic evangelist who explained the meaning: ‘having a pain in your heart for the pains of others, and taking pains to do something about their pain’. Another writer she quoted wrote that mercy is ‘the compassion in our hearts for another person’s misery, a compassion which drives us to do what we can to help him’.
Compassion literally means: ‘with (com) suffering (passion)’ – or rather, to ‘suffer with’ someone. It means to genuinely feel another’s pain.
A number of times in the gospels Jesus displayed miraculous power because he was moved with compassion for those who needed healing (e.g. Matthew 14:14; 20:34). Compassion is a key for the releasing of miraculous power. And it moves us! Not only in terms of deep feelings stirred within, but it moves us to act. Compassion does not make for a nice, convenient, unruffled life. When we have compassion it moves us to take action, at cost to ourselves.
We cannot manufacture compassion, and at times we will fail in this; but we can pray for it and put ourselves in the place where the Spirit can develop it in us. He will give us many opportunities to do so. Let’s ask him to help us in this as we move forward.