Practicing the Virtue of Compassion in our Lives

Some years ago, a man collapsed on a busy corner in downtown Brooklyn. Within minutes an ambulance rushed him to the nearest General Hospital. From time to time he would regain consciousness and would keep calling for his son. In his wallet, the attending nurse found an old letter, which indicated that he had a son, who was a marine stationed in North Carolina. So she called and asked him to come over immediately.

Jesus heals the LeperAs soon as he arrived, the nurse took him to the man's bedside and whispered, "Your son is here! Your son is here!" The old man opened his eyes, and even though he could not recognize the face, he noticed the marine uniform. Reaching out compassionately the young marine took the old man's hand and held it lovingly.

Sometime later the nurse urged him to go out and have something to eat and drink. But the marine declined, only asking for a chair, so he could sit by the old man's bedside and keep holding his hand. Sometime before dawn the patient passed away. Stepping up to the marine, the nurse extended her sympathy. "Nurse" he stammered, "who is this man?" The nurse couldn't believe her ears. "Why?" she replied hesitantly, "I thought he was your father."

"Quite honestly, nurse, my father died some time ago. I have never seen this man before in my life." "Then why did you not say something earlier?" asked the nurse. "I would have" answered the marine, "but I could see that he was too sick to realize that I wasn't his son. I could also see that he was slipping fast and that he needed the comfort of his son. And so I decided to stay."

Compassion is indeed a virtue that makes the love and concern of God a tangible reality for another human being in distress. Compassion is a profound word which means ‘sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.’ In the gospel, the episode of healing of a leper is an apt example of compassion. Jesus’ heart manifests God’s parental compassion for that man, moving close to him and touching him.

God’s mercy overcomes every barrier and Jesus’ hand touches the leper. He does not stand at a safe distance and does not act by delegating, but places himself in direct contact with that man. It means that God does in the face of our ills. God does not come to give a lesson on pain. But he involves himself and alleviates the suffering by his touch.

Let us practice the virtue of compassion in our lives.


In the Service of the Lord,
   Father Thainese Alphonse



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St. Bernadette Catholic Church