by Mike Bolin, Sedalia Companion
I have reflected for many hours on a point Sr. Joyce Rupp made during her presentation at this year‘s assembly. If we are to show compassion towards others, how do we do such without affording ourselves that same blessing? To take this a step further, would not being compassionate to one’s self enhance our ability to be compassionate to others?
I believe that throughout our lives we have been predisposed to judge or label people or situations at first sight. This is the sum of our life experiences. It interferes with our ability to show compassion, as we have already decided where this person or instance is to be indexed and how we are going to respond. We are not allowing ourselves an opportunity for compassion.
During the Companions Retreat last year, Fr. Andy O’Reilly, c.pp.s. encouraged us to see Jesus in everyone we meet and not to predispose or label. Jesus loves all of us unconditionally and this is the basis for compassion. Are we open to this unconditional love, do we recognize his spirit and compassion, or are we clouded and driven by our life experiences, closing the door on his light. Do we allow the warmth of his spirit to enter our lives? Do we take the time in during our everyday lives to explore his love? Do we attempt to see his spirit in other people or situations? Are we open to his love and compassion?
I believe letting Jesus into our lives, no matter our faults or transgressions, allows us to know his compassion, a compassion and mercy brought about by his unwavering love. True compassion is born from love. For us to truly be compassionate to others we need know this for ourselves. Jesus says in John 13:34: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.” Acknowledging this brings to the surface His love for us and challenges us to see His love in others.
We should schedule time in our lives to let His love and compassion fill the void in our experiences and give us new avenues to travel. If we try to see and listen and put other’s needs above our own, we come to a more complete understanding of compassion. If we understand that loves others as he loves us, we will come to know love. The Catholic News Agency reported that on Jan 31, 2010 Pope Benedict xvi discussed St. Paul’s “hymn of love” and the importance of love as the “badge of the Christian” and the “greatest” gift in his address before the Angelus. He also said: “Love is the ‘greatest’ gift, that gives value to all the others… In the end, when we find ourselves face-to-face with God, all of the other gifts will disappear; the only one that will remain eternally will be love, because God is love and we will be like Him, in perfect communion with Him.”
We cannot know compassion without love, and we cannot know love without compassion.