Tuesday, July 08, 2014

He Had Compassion

I have always been impressed by the passage in the ninth chapter of St. Matthew's gospel (vs. 36) The words that most remain in my heart are:
"When he saw the crowds he had compazssion on them for they were harrassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd."
When I see media accounts of people whose homes were bombed out or deliberately burned down, I feel compassion for the people runing for their lives. Who is going to provide shelter for families forced into refugee situations? Maybe a few weeks before the neo-refugees enjoyed the comforts of an apartment, a television, landline telephones, hot showers, modern stoves. These folks could be ourselves. In the USA this is hurricane and tornado season, just as much as it is summer fun time. Tonight I called one of my sisters who lives in Ohio. A tornado touched down two miles from her house. Our Fathers and Brothers of St. Paul who are holding a retreat for members of our Pauline Family also lost windows, electrical power, and perhaps damage to their water pumps. Many trees were knocked over. Thankfully it seems no one was hurt by the powerful winds.
We pray for our neighbors suffering from the storm damage. We pray too for those refugees in the Middle East who are caught in conflict. Some are facing severe persecution because they are Christians. Some storms are interior--they rock our heart and soul. Grief can leave one wiped out as trees stripped of thei leaves after a tornado. Jesus today looks at you--whatever storm you face--with copassion. Compassion derives from two Latin words which mean "to suffer with." On the cross Jesus took all our sin and sorrow on himself. He suffered "with and for us." Other interior storms are "personal demons" of addiction to drugs, alcohol, anger, sex, or pornography. As Jesus walked on water and calmed the storm when Peter and the Apostles were being knocked about by high seas, so Jesus can calm our storms and pull us out of soul storms that shake our "in most calm." To weather our personal storms we need to turn to Jesus. He is not some warm and fuzzy stuffed teddy bear. At times he displays tough love as when we need to shape up and quit addictions, bad habits and resist temptations. He says,
"Take up your cross and follow me."
Strong language. Yet he also invites us to
"Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Let us pray for a just peace wherever it is needed in the Middle East, in Palestine, in Africa, in the Ukraine and elsewhere. Prayer has no borders. Prayer makes us "ambassadors for Christ" as St. Paul says. Our prayer unites us to God at leaat for a short time, and it gives us compassionate hearts, hearts like Jesus' who had compassion on the crowds.

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