US Catholic Faith in Real Life

A reflection for Advent: Be compassionate as God is compassionate

All we’re asked to do is to be in the world who God is.

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God is compassionate, loving kindness. All we’re asked to do is to be in the world who God is. Certainly compassion was the wallpaper of Jesus’ soul, the contour of his heart, it was who he was.

Jesus was not a man for others. He was one with others. There is a world in difference in that. Jesus didn’t seek the rights of the lepers. He touched the leper even before he got around to curing him. He didn’t champion the cause of the outcast. He was the outcast. He didn’t fight for improved conditions for the prisoner. He simply said, “I was in prison.”

The strategy of Jesus is not centered on taking the right stand on issues, but rather in standing in the right place—with the outcast and those relegated to the margins.

Scripture scholars contend that the original language of the Beatitudes should not be rendered as “Blessed are the single-hearted” or “Blessed are the peacemakers” or “Blessed are those who struggle for justice.” Greater precision in translation would say, “You’re in the right place if…you are single-hearted or work for peace.” The Beatitudes is not a spirituality, after all. It’s a geography. It tells us where to stand.

Compassion isn’t just about feeling the pain of others; it’s about bringing them in toward yourself. If we love what God loves, then, in compassion, margins get erased. “Be compassionate as God is compassionate,” means the dismantling of barriers that exclude.

Father Greg Boyle in Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion (Free Press)

Reflection questions:

1. How are you modeling God’s compassion this Advent?

2. Are you “standing in the right place”?

3. In what ways can you push yourself to act with more compassion in your day to day life?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016