Tuesday, September 18, 2012 by Food for Thought
FirstReading: 1 Cor 12:12-14, 27-31a
Psalm: Ps 100:1b-2, 3, 4, 5
Gospel: Lk 7:11-17
Luke, towards the end of his Sermon on the Plain, has Jesus say, “Be compassionate as your heavenly Father is compassionate.” Matthew towards the end of his Sermon on the Mount has Jesus speak the same words. Compassion is often spoken of as the characteristic virtue of
Christ and of the Christian. Today’s Gospel passage records an extraordinary miracle. In performing this miracle Jesus’ sole motivation was his compassion.
Jesus’ concern throughout today’s Gospel passage is not for the son, but for the mother. Jesus sees the body of a young man being carried out of town for burial. Luke notes that the young man was the only son of a widowed mother. Jesus is moved with pity when he sees the bereft woman. Immediately he consoles her, “Do not cry.” After he restores the man to life, “Jesus gives him back to his mother.” The miracle is about the mother, not about the son. The miracle is about compassion, not about any other motivation.
The Christian, like Jesus, is to reflect in the world the compassion of Jesus’ Father. Fortunately our hearts can fill with compassion for the less fortunate, as did Jesus’ heart for the bereaved widow of Naim. However, we do not have the power of Christ. We cannot give expression to the compassion we feel, as Jesus did through miracles.
Today compassion is best expressed not by being charitable, though charity is still terribly important even essential. Compassion will create miracles when it moves you and me to participate in the struggle to change the sinful political, economic and social structures that
keep the poor poor, and the oppressed oppressed.
So we are to ask ourselves: Am I compassionate when the poor come to me for help? Does my compassion move me to cooperate in changing the sinful structures of our society? Only if we can answer “yes” to both of these questions will we imitate Jesus in making our Father’s compassion alive on earth.