• Elpidio Pezzella

The compassion of Jesus

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. . (Matthew 9:36 NKJV) The word "compassion" has been wrongly attributed an almost negative value, to the point of considering it a form of piety exercised from the top down. Compassion, on the other hand, is the genuine participation in the suffering of the other, and experiencing this feeling is good, both psychologically and physically. Some scientific research has shown that compassion can accelerate the course of a disease, increase psychophysical well-being and reduce stress levels and depressive symptoms. I do not believe these were the motivations of Jesus, even if for us they are an additional incentive. First of all, we want to continually learn from Jesus, "the head and finisher of our faith". Only by letting ourselves be inspired by him and following his example will we be able to reduce the possibilities of errors and the risk of failure. Certainly he was humanly tireless, according to Matthew's account, traveling through "all the towns and villages" of his territory, "teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease" (Matthew 9:35). Despite the efforts made, Christ has often had to deal with the widespread disbelief (Mark 6:6) which limited his action. In front of the crowds, Jesus realizes that the need was greater than what he could do alone. Yet he does not give up, nor does he discourage and slow down his action. Something special animates his mission: compassion, the maximum of vitality and love for life. "To have compassion" is one of the verbs that best characterizes the action of Jesus among the people, and its use in the New Testament is addressed only to him. Compassion literally means "to suffer with". God is not far from the suffering of anyone, but embraces those who suffer. Jesus charged our suffering upon himself. Christ in the Gospels appears as a narration and personification of God's compassion, well expressed in the attitude of the Good Samaritan who, passing by the wounded man, "saw him and had compassion" (Luke 10:33). Likewise the shepherd takes on the fatigue of his sheep and does not remain indifferent. Unfortunately, at times compassion is opposed to compassion "the hardness of the heart" (Mark 3:5), an attitude which can and must be indignant, as Jesus does. Hardness of heart is guilty and to be condemned. At the same time, this is very sad, because when the human heart, already the source of all evil, hardens, it can only emit poisons and plot murders. The hardness of the heart is dangerous to the point of making us even Jesus seem "useless". Only eyes darkened by selfishness and wickedness will remain fixed on themselves, without finding a way to look up to find out how great the harvest is and then consider the small number of those who work there. Jesus asked this to the disciples, to realize the need of others and not to hesitate to make it their own, and in any case to never be paid. Here then is that compassion is not only a feeling that is imposed on the heart of man, but becomes a choice, a responsibility in the face of the cry of those who suffer. In the face of immense need, it is necessary to pray "the Lord of the harvest who sends workers into his harvest".

Devotional 29/2018 Weekly Bible reading plan July 15 Psalms 13-15; Acts 19:21-41 July 16 Psalms 16-17; Acts 20:1-16 July 17 Psalms 18-19; Acts 20:17-38 July 18 Psalms 20-22; Acts 21:1-17 July 19 Psalms 23-25; Acts 21:18-40 July 20 Psalms 26-28; Acts 22 July 21 Psalms 29-30; Acts 23:1-15

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