Compassion

Last week was a week when a lot of people probably thought about their childhood more than they normally do. The reason for this is our friend, Dr. Seuss. His birthday was celebrated Friday and his books were read by many. Rhyming words that may have been forgotten came back to memories as cats, elephants, and things ran about doing good while eating green eggs.

On Friday morning I read The Cat in the Hat to a group of twenty or so third graders at an elementary school. On Friday night Horton Hears a Who was read to me and a thousand or so other people at a church conference I attended. The children listened and were entertained that morning in the classroom. I, and the other adults listened Friday night and were moved to be more compassionate to all those who are around us every day.

Compassion is something that can't really be taught no matter how much we hear about it. We can't force anyone to be compassionate toward anyone no matter who we are, or who they are. Compassion is something that rises up in us from deep inside when we see anyone who is less fortunate, lowly, hurting, lonely and sometimes literally forgotten by the world.

Compassion is defined as a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. Notice it is much more than a feeling. It brings about a strong desire to bring about change for the better. It brings about action.

In Matthew 14:14 we read, And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.  Notice the compassion of Jesus brought action. He did something for them. He healed them. We are called to go forth to the multitudes and not only have compassion on them but to take action so that they may be healed of things that ail them. Whether it be loneliness, heart break, or needs of actual physical things such as food or clothing, we must take action after the feelings of sympathy rise up.

In the Dr. Seuss story of Horton and Whoville, Horton realized that someone needed to do something for the little forgotten whos, and that someone was him. He reached out to them, not with hands, for he had none, but with his heart. Compassion is not to reach out and simply touch someone with our hands, but to touch them with our hearts.

jbp