Heartfelt Compassion!

Father John Powell (1925 – 2009), a Jesuit priest was a professor at Loyola University in Chicago. He was a best-selling writer, popular lecturer, teacher, and counselor. In his book, entitled, Through the Eyes of Faith, he tells about his prison ministry. About once a month, he visited a prisoner in the state prison. On one occasion of his visit, he had an enlightening and inspiring experience in that stern and somber prison environment. An elderly woman was standing beside him as they moved through the visitor line. He could not help but notice how this sweet, dear woman was smiling warmly toward everyone, waving tenderly to the guards and calling many of them by name, and greeting everyone in a kind and loving way.

John Powell was fascinated with her. She was absolutely radiant. She was a ray of sunshine and a breath of fresh air in that sullen place. Suddenly, John Powell said to her, "Gee, I'll bet you bring a lot of love into this world with your smiling face and words." "Father," she replied, "I decided long ago that there are no strangers in my world. Only brothers and sisters. Some of them I haven't met yet."

Heartfelt CompassionReflecting on that experience, John Powell wrote: "That lady drew out of me a deep and warm reaction of love. And gradually I came to realize that people are not one thing, good or bad, but many things. In every human being there is warmth, love, affection, but there is also hurt, anger, weakness. We stimulate or draw out of them one or the other. It all depends upon our approach, and our approach depends upon our attitude."

And then he writes these concluding words: "This was the genius of Jesus. He took people where they were and loved them into life. This is precisely what Jesus did for… those whose lives he touched. He was a living portrait of love in action. Jesus said: Love one another as I have loved you. Yes... this was the genius of Jesus. He took people where they were and loved them into life." This is precisely what we see Jesus doing in today’s Gospel – healing a woman with hemorrhages and raising Jairus’ daughter. He is loving some needy and hurting people into life. This passage is a fascinating one because here we have a story within a story; that is heartfelt compassion showed by Jesus. We have to imitate the same compassion towards others. 

Henri Nouwen, a Catholic theologian, speaks of Christians as "wounded healers" who have compassion. Compassion is not pity, sympathy and charity, but it’s born of God. It means entering into the other person's problems. It means taking on the burdens of the other. It means standing in the other person's shoes. It is the humanizing way to deal with people.

We pray that all our activities are carried out through the eyes of faith so that we would exhibit heartfelt compassion towards others.

In the Service of the Lord,
   Father Thainese Alphonse

Your faith has healed you


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St. Bernadette Catholic Church