A Special Gift

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.  Without them humanity cannot survive.

 –Dalai Lama (b. 1935), a monk of the Gelug School.

Compassion is a form of love which is aroused when we’re faced with those who’re suffering or are vulnerable.  The Hebrew and Greek words – rachuwm and splanchnisoma are at times translated as “compassion.”   Their other broader meanings are “to show pity” and “to show mercy.”  Near synonyms in the English language are “to be loved by,” “to show concern for,” “to be tender-hearted,”and “to act kindly.”  All these terms help in our expressions concerning how we should pray.

Rumi (1207–1273), a Persian Muslim theologian observed, “Great can be a garden of compassion.  If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”  Nevertheless some of us are brought to our knees when we suffer.  Strange as it may seem such pain in our devotion to our Lord may provide relief, insight, and dependence on our Savior.

In the New Testament believers read about a compassionate God.  This is shown through the ministry of Jesus Christ among his people (Mt 9:36; Mk 6:34).  Jesus encountered helpless crowds, sick, and hungry people.  Luke speaks about a Father (Jesus Christ) moved with compassion when he encountered his wayward son (Lk 15:20).  God accepts us when we repent and return to his fold.

But what should we do when we put feet and hands to our prayers?  Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965), a French-German theologian explained, “The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”  We can do such deeds by feeding the poor, working in soup kitchens, and clothing the naked.  These ministries call for dedication as we show love to the underprivileged.  We therefore should make compassion an integral part of our Christian lifestyle (Zech 7:9).  As Daniel Goleman (b. 1946), a psychologist wrote, “True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain but also being moved to help relieve it.”

Reach Out in Prayer

But what must we learn?  Radhanath Swami (b. 1950), a community builder said, “Religion is meant to teach us true spiritual human character.  It is meant for self-transformation.  It is meant to transform anxiety into peace, arrogance into humility, envy into compassion, to awaken the pure soul in man and his love for the Source, which is God.”  Desmond Tutu (b. 1931), a South African retired Anglican bishop further stated, “God’s dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion.”  When we pray for guidance in our various ministries our test is to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion.

We know that God is full of compassion and gracious (Ps 78:38; 86:15; 111:4).  Jesus taught we must extend this to the whole human race without exception (Mt 5:43-48; Lk 10:30-37).  As Saint Stephen (d. 36 A.D.), the first martyr put it: “You desire that which exceeds my humble powers, but I trust in the compassion and mercy of the All-powerful God.”  Then again we are reminded by Saint Francis of Assisi (1181/1182–1226), an Italian Roman Catholic preacher: “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”  Being compassionate should not be viewed as a weakness, but rather as a special gift from God.

Navigating Life

People have to see clearly as they navigate through life.  They have to move from feeling superior to being humble in their daily walk.  There must be a realization that all are equal in the eyes of God.  In accepting this, people will identify with the down-trodden and seek out other these challenges.   To accomplish the quest of what it truly means to be human calls on us to embrace the afflicted.  We’re able do so through our five senses, although one may be apt to take the center stage in our life.  Some however believe the gift of sight is more important.

Henry Van Dyke (1852–1933), an author, educator, and clergyman observed, “In the progress of personality, first comes a declaration of independence, then a recognition of interdependence.”  Some declare their independence once they mature with experience, and become more knowledgeable.  This stage they achieve through disciplining their senses.  They realize that life is about community and service, building up the body of Christ, and serving others.

Looking at Others

Some people don’t like to be stared at and consider this act disagreeable.  Others become suspicious of those who are looking intently at them.  To women especially staring is considered impolite.  They feel that men are undressing them.  That’s why there are proper and improper ways of using one’s eyes.  By taking discreet and occasional glances are a more polite way of looking.

Charlotte Bronte (1816–155), an English novelist and poet felt, “The soul fortunately, has an interpreter – often and unconscious but still a faithful interpreter – in the eye.”  Although Bronte’s remarks are somewhat correct, it isn’t the entire truth.  Many Christians believe the best interpreter of human behavior is the Holy Spirit.  Our eyes aren’t developed enough to ascertain the truth.  Authentic truth has to be divinely inspired.

Adjusting our Gaze

As people talk to each other they do so while adjusting their gaze.  Some do so consciously, but at times when they glance, it’s unconscious.  In this process a comfort level is established for both parties as they communicate.  Looking into a person’s eyes mustn’t be seen as a contest of wills, intimidation, nor browbeating, but as a genuine concern to be understood.

We ought to reach out to those in need of help.  Our friends may be fellow Christians who need encouragement. Some members have to face their church’s officials or others in need.  They have to let them know their true feelings about the church’s policies.  Some problems are matters pertaining to family life.  John Paul 11 (1920–2005), a Roman Catholic Pope explained, “The great danger of family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.”  John Paul’s admonition makes it possible for churchgoers to practice their communication skills, so that when issues arise they are prepared to handle them.

Encountering Faith

God gives us his gift of assurance that his kingdom is everlasting and his dominion will endure for all generations (Ps 145:13).  Faith isn’t generated, for we’re one body, and partake of one bread (Rom 10:17).  We must ask for wisdom without wavering and we’ll receive it (Jas 1:6).  Job when he was faced with misfortune didn’t blame God foolishly, but responded with unwavering faith (Ps 27:1).  The Lord is our light and salvation whom should we fear?  Though our justification by faith we’ll have peace when we access his grace (Rom 5:1-2) being confident of hope not seen (Rom 8:24-25).  With the Lord at our sides it’s better to trust in him than in others (Ps 118:5-9).

In our journey we must be prepared to take a leap of faith.  We’ve to be witnesses we embrace it in our simplicity.  Iyanla Vanzant (b. 1953), an American inspirational speaker and lawyer explained, “In my deepest, darkest moments, what really got me through was a prayer.  Sometimes my prayer was ‘Help me.’  Sometimes a prayer was ‘Thank you.’  What I’ve discovered is that intimate connection and communication with my creator will always get me through because I know my support, my help, is just a prayer away.”  Vanzant has confidence in the power of prayer.  She knows it’s real because it works.

Be Faithful

Mother Teresa (1910–1997), an Albanian Roman Catholic religious sister and missionary was mindful about what she had to do.  She encouraged us to: “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”  For reasons, small circumstances come our way.  Our response must be through the gifts of faith when we embrace tasks to help the poor.  These can be either in big or small projects.  Our walk beckons that we do our best when undertaking these tasks.

It’s always right and just to communicate with enthusiasm.  Saint Augustine (354–430 AD), an early Christian theologian and philosopher described the right attitude when he explained, “Pray as though everything depended on God.  Work as though everything depended on you.”  This is how our faith grows.

God: Our Creator

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (1931–2015), the 11th President of India, observed, “God, Our Creator, has stored within our minds and personalities, great potential strength and ability.  Prayer helps us tap and develop these powers.”  People of prayer must have great faith.  They bring before their creator their pleas to be acceptable by him in their simplicity.  They know that God hears their prayers, listen to their requests, and answers petitions.

In bringing our prayers to God, great are those who believe in his mercies, and goodness.  Blaise Pascal (1623–1662), a French inventor and Christian philosopher assured us: “In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.”  Believers only have to ask their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and their requests will be heard.  For best results, believe and ask in faith.  Wavering minds can be grounds for disappointments.  One way or another, the Lord will answer us.  We may receive exactly what we ask for, or, on some occasions, we’ll be surprised in the way our prayers are answered.

Encountering God

The Bible is filled with God’s promises, but we encounter faith in Jesus Christ – his life, death, resurrection, and ascension.  This occurs when we participate in the gifts of the Eucharistic feast.  Dwight L. Moody (1837–1899), an evangelist and publisher was sure: “God never made a promise that was too good to be true.”  We can always depend on God.  It’s through faith when we aspire for goodness, truth, and are touched the divine (Jn 3:18-21).  It’s strength to trust in him and not ourselves.