“He had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep’.” In this Sunday’s gospel (Luke 7:11-17), we witness the compassion of Jesus in his encounter with a widow who has just lost her only son. To have compassion is not simply to feel for another person who is suffering. To have compassion is, somehow, to carry the suffering of another person.
Jesus says to this woman “do not weep”. Why does he say this? He does not say this because her tears are futile. He says this because her meaningful tears are to be transformed. Jesus carries her suffering. Jesus resurrects her son and, in so doing, Jesus resurrects her heart.
Do we believe in God’s compassion for us? Do we really believe that God can reach us in our suffering? God may not eliminate the suffering. In fact, you may have noticed that often He does not! If we had the opportunity, we would likely advise God to do as He did here, and make the suffering go away! Indeed, as Mother Teresa says, “suffering in and of itself is useless”. To the naked eye, humanly speaking, this is terribly true. To the faith eye, divinely speaking, however, there is another truth. Mother Teresa continues, “but suffering that is shared with the passion of Christ is a wonderful gift and a sign of love”.
Jesus awaits us in the heart of our suffering and carries it in love. If we meet Him there, then love, not the suffering, has the last word. In our daily lives, we move back and forth in this apparent dichotomy, between the ugliness of suffering and the beauty of divine encounter. Would that, with eyes wide open to the former, we choose the latter.
Having chosen and experienced the latter in himself and in the many sick persons, European slaves, orphans, and elders he served, French priest St. Vincent de Paul (+1660), says to us,
If only we knew the precious treasure hidden in infirmities, we would receive them with the same joy with which we receive the greatest benefits, and we would bear them without ever complaining or showing signs of weariness.
May we find the precious treasure…
Yours in Christ,
From the desk of the Rector