At Mass this morning, our priest expounded on the story of the Good Samaritan, and earmarked all the signs of good Christian behavior towards our fellow suffering humans residing on this planet.
He offered the best definition of compassion I have ever heard. It is simple and it makes sense. He said that, “Compassion is taking someone else’s pain and putting it into your heart.”
The words nearly knocked me over and I am still ruminating on them hours later.
What do we do with the suffering in the world? How do we handle it? How do we act? Do our prayers matter?
I have witnessed enormous suffering the past year; a friend lost her twin boys, another lost an infant, another passed from cancer, another was falsely accused of horrendous acts, fires in Arizona consumed 19 heroes, families and friendships ripped were apart by silly events, and countless other abuses, injustices and agony permeated the peace.
It can be suffocating.
Or, there are moments when the events might seem surreal, as if we are watching a violent video game or a sad movie. Grasping tragedy is not easy. It is difficult to watch loved ones suffer, and it is difficult to be the one drawing the short straw on suffering. We often don’t know what to say.
But think on this…………while we don’t have to be immersed in the suffering, we can and we should take the person’s pain and place it into our heart. When I can do that, I am able to take it to the foot of the Cross where the Blood of Jesus washes over them. That is true compassion.
When I observed a doctor reduced to gut-wrenching sobs after explaining to him some of the things going on in our lives, he demonstrated true compassion.
When a friend came up to me and held my hand after Mass, she said nothing–but I felt true compassion.
For the past few days, my personal suffering has grown lighter because I know that right this minute, thousands of people are taking my pain and fear into their hearts and because of that, I can go on.
If it weren’t for this great body of the Communion of Saints on Heaven and on Earth, I might be resigned to a small corner in my room, weeping and feeling sorry for myself. Despite this impending riskiness, I can laugh, smile, and get my “ducks in a row” because of these great prayer warriors who truly know the art of Compassion.
Compassion, what a great and underrated gift!