Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Strength Means Compassion

Sixteenth Ordinary Sunday Year A

People often say that “Strength means power.” Whoever has strength is in charge. That may be one of the reasons we often find difficulty in forgiving those who have hurt us. That is also the reason why we find it hard to apologise to the other person whom we have hurt. We often think that such actions are signs of weakness and that we will allow others take advantage of us.

But today’s readings remind us that true strength means compassion. He who is able to forgive, he who is able to show compassion is truly strong. In the first reading, we are told that God’s authority has its source in strength. But this strength does not mean that God uses his power indiscriminately. God’s strength is not about domination or control or judgment. God’s greatest strength comes in the form of his compassion. He is able to punish the sinner, humble the proud, and defeat the greatest nations on earth, but God chooses not to do so. Rather, he “is mild in judgment,” and “governs with lenience.” The writer of the Book of Wisdom tells us the reason for this. God is compassionate to us in order to teach us a lesson – that we too should be compassionate with one another.

What is the meaning of compassion? Many people often confuse compassion with sympathy. Compassion is not equivalent to sympathy. Compassion is a decision to enter into the experience, the pain and struggle of the other person. Sympathy is only a feeling. Sympathy keeps us at a distance. We can sympathise with all the victims of war or the hungry children in Africa, and yet we choose to do nothing. Compassion, on the other hand, calls us to action. Compassion is a call to come close to the other person, to experience what he is experiencing. Compassion means walking in the shoes of the other person.

In Latin, compassion means to “suffer with.” We will never be able to show compassion to our fellow men if we have not learnt how to “suffer with” them. In other words, compassion is the ability to see through the eyes of the other person, to think like the other person, to experience the struggles which the other is experiencing. Unless we do this, we will be quick to pass judgment and criticize.

We must accept that our families, schools, work places and church communities are made up of people who are not perfect. Each of us is a bundle of good and bad. We are like the field that has both wheat and darnel, all mixed up together. There is no way of separating the good from the bad within each of us. No one is entirely bad. Likewise, no one is entirely good. Compassion helps us to accept our own weaknesses and limitations. If we can recognize our own weaknesses and our need for God’s forgiveness and compassion, we will also begin to be compassionate with our brothers and sisters who are having the same struggles as us. If we want others to change entirely for the good, there is a possibility that we will chase them away from us. If this happens, not only will we be rid of what we think is bad, we will also risk loosing the good in that person.

Let us learn from the compassionate heart of Jesus. Let us not be too quick in passing judgment on our brothers and sisters. If we have shown compassion to others, we too will receive compassion from God.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Terms of Use: As additional measure for security, please sign in before you leave your comments.

Please note that foul language will not be tolerated. Comments that include profanity, personal attacks, and antisocial behaviour such as "spamming" and "trolling" will be removed. Violators run the risk of being blocked permanently. You are fully responsible for the content you post. Please be responsible and stay on topic.