Compassion. From its Latin roots—com patio—to bear with, we learn that compassion is more than just feeling sorrow or pity. It is a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. We feel the other’s pain and want to stand with the other through it.
Pope Francis, has frequently spoken of compassion to the crowds that gather at Saint Peter’s. In August, following the Angelus, he talked about the Sunday gospel of the multiplication of fish and loaves.
“Christ does not react with irritation to the crowd that followed him, and would not — so to speak — ‘leave Him in peace’. Rather, He feels compassion, because He knows that they do not seek Him out of [mere] curiosity, but out of need.” Pope Francis went on to say that the many healings Christ performed were the sign of His compassion. “Jesus,” said the Holy Father, “teaches us to put the needs of the poor ahead of our own. Our needs, even if legitimate, will never be as urgent as those of the poor, who lack the necessities of life.”
The next day, in a general audience, Pope Francis expanded on this message. “At the heart of the new covenant is our realization that, in Christ, we are embraced by God’s mercy and compassion, and that our lives must bear witness to his love for all our brothers and sisters.”
He went on to state, “that our Christian life will be judged on how we treat Him in the least of our brethren. In addition to the new law, the Lord invites us to recognize God in the poor, in those that suffer, in those in need. We will be judged on this at the end of our lives,” he said.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2448, minces no words when it reminds us that “In its various forms—material deprivation, unjust oppression, physical and psychological illness and death—human misery is the obvious sign of the inherited condition of frailty and need for salvation in which man finds himself as a consequence of original sin. This misery elicited the compassion of Christ the Savior, who willingly took it upon himself and identified himself with the least of his brethren. Hence, those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a preferential love on the part of the Church which, since her origin and in spite of the failings of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defense, and liberation through numerous works of charity which remain indispensable always and everywhere.”
Thus, the practice of compassion involves us at our very core. It is an active stance, not a passive glance.
~ Jody Ladd Craig
Adult Faith Formation Committee

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