When Mary [of Bethany] reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” she replied.
A Word of Hope
Centering Prayer: Lord God, quiet my thoughts and open my spirit to receive your words into my soul. May they find rich opportunity to grow and nourish my spiritual journey with you. Amen.
“God is full of compassion and mercy, come let us adore God.” This phrase forms an introductory statement to a Franciscan morning prayer which has been prayed for centuries, and its message represents an essential aspect of the Christian lifestyle.
Let’s look at the word compassion. From its Latin origin, it is a compound word: com meaning with and passio meaning sympathy; to be in sympathy with, suffer with, experience the distress or sorrow of others. Referring back to that introductory phrase (“God is full of compassion”), it means that God experiences our suffering alongside us. This is a startling pronouncement about the character of the Absolute Sovereign God of this universe.
Earlier humanity viewed God as very distant, up in the heavens and away or out of reach for human beings. However, Jesus revealed to us a God which is close, nearby, whose Spirit can live with and in our daily experiences; a God which also senses our sorrow, pain, loss and even our joy; a God which wants to be a true participant in our full life. God wants to live our daily life, step-by-step, in intimate relationship with us!
Jesus is the great revelation of this divine nature as expressed in human form. The Gospel of John (Chapter 11) gives the account of Jesus’ response to the emotional pain experienced by the sisters and friends of Lazarus who had died. When he arrived, Jesus found them in deep sorrow and crying over the loss of this friend who was such a good man. “When Jesus saw them weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.” As he approached the tomb, “Jesus wept”. Jesus felt their pain and sorrow. As a human, Jesus genuinely expressed sorrow
for the loss of Lazarus’ friendship and cried as we might do in that experience. Jesus demonstrated to us in human form the depth of God’s compassion at Lazarus’ death and the family’s grief.
As the Franciscan prayer phrase reads: “Our God is full of compassion”, let us adore God which loves us so much and wishes to experience that love in an intimate relationship with our full life.
God of all, today, may we strive to practice the same compassion for others as you have forever felt for us.
Donald (Luke) Day
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare