Last week, on the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, we celebrated what can be aptly called the sacrament of compassion. In the Gospel story, we saw how Christ, out of compassion, was moved to respond to the hungers of the people: spiritual, psycho-emotional and physical.
This Sunday, the 10th Sunday in ordinary time, we again see Christ moved by compassion to raise the young man from the dead and return him to his widowed mother.
There is an interesting contrast here with the story of Lazarus. In the raising of Lazarus, there was a very personal relationship. Christ and Lazarus and his family were very close friends.
It was the situation of the mother of the young man that prompted Christ to perform the miracle. Furthermore, the widow and her deceased son were complete strangers to Christ, as Christ simply was passing through the town of Nain.
This Sunday’s Gospel from Luke (7: 11-17) invites us to reflect on this characteristic or quality of Christian compassion we are encouraged to emulate.
In the Masses I celebrated last Sunday, the Feast of the Body and Bloody of Christ, I shared the story of one of our team members in a project we have for calamity-hit areas. With an expert team, we have a project to set up Family Recovery Centers for trauma counseling in the calamity-stricken communities.
The team went to Davao last month where we will have our pilot center. Our representative reported to us what happened in the counseling sessions. He shared the story of a young girl, a 14-year-old, who lost all her family and relatives. Only she and her younger brother survived.
This girl was in the therapy group. At the start she was wearing a hoodie. Our representative found it “odd” because it was warm. When it was the girl’s turn to speak, she put down her hood, revealing the back of her head that was filled with scars.
As she finished her story, she ended with: “Tanggap ko na ang nangyari sa pamilya ko. Okay na ako. Tanggap ko na.” (I have already accepted what happened to my family. I am okay already. I’ve accepted it.)
Our representative was angry at the situation. Why were this girl—and many others like her—not even bitter or resentful of the tragedy? She simply had to accept and move on.
This is the compassion demanded of us by the situation, to feel for and with majority of our people who are in a similar position; people who cannot even question and challenge their situation in life, or to put it in another way, people who cannot dream and hope for a better life.
The needs of others
Many things we take for granted are for a majority of our people really deep needs and lack. A friend shared a simple story.
He had moved the family of one of his staff closer to their office. He felt that it was the right thing to do since his staff had three young children, and worked from Monday to Saturday afternoon.
When they had moved into a simple house, my friend told the office staff to assist the family and check on what they needed. The day the family settled in, he was told that the office had to lend the family a table where they could take their meals.
My friend very casually asked: “Bakit, hindi nila nadala ang dining table nila?” (Why, they were not able to bring their dining table?)
The staff answered: “Hindi po. Wala po silang mesa talaga.” (No, sir. They really do not have a table.)
Only then did he realize that the family simply sat around the house—probably a one-room affair—when they ate and the main furniture was the bed or the papag.
As I mentioned in last week’s reflection, we have to desire to build communities of compassion and love; communities that will care for its weakest members—the victims, the poor, the outcasts of our society.
This is the care and compassion that comes only from Christ. This is the care and compassion that moved Christ to respond to the widow’s need and raise the young man from the dead.
As a Jesuit theologian, Fr. Randy Sachs, once said, the miracles do not really show the divinity of Christ, but rather the compassion of God. This is the compassion we would to like emulate. It gives us hope that we can still build caring communities, a society that is compassionate.