COMPASSION LIES AT THE HEART of the authentic Christ-following life. Any spiritual experience – whether it be one of solitude and silence, prayer and fasting, or worship and celebration – that does not result in a deeper concern for our suffering neighbors can hardly be called Christian. The critical test of relationship with the Holy One always involves the quality of our love for those around us. If our communion with God isolates us from the painful realities of our world, inoculates us into an excessive preoccupation with our own well-being, it must be considered suspect. If, on the other hand, it finds expression in greater compassion and a willingness to show care, then it passes the test for genuineness. This authenticity test surfaces when we ponder the words and deeds of Jesus. Consider the parable of the Good Samaritan in this regard. A traveler in his way from Jerusalem to Jericho is mugged and left to die at the side of the road. Soon afterward a priest comes by and then a Levite, both of whom pass by without response. Finally a Samaritan stops, bandages the injured man’s wounds, helps him onto his donkey, and takes him to a nearby inn where he continues to take care of him. Jesus ends the parable with a straightforward challenge to the listening lawyer, “Go and do likewise.”
—Trevor Hudson, A Mile in My Shoes: Cultivating Compassion (Upper Room Books, 2005)
“How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! I try to count them — they are more than the sand; I come to the end — I am still with you.”
—Psalm 139:17-18 (NRSV)
Prayer for the Week
Give me the eyes to see when others hurt, the ears to hear when others cry, and the courage to bring light into their darkness.
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(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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