God’s Compassion
by Joan Duffy, CSJ

“Human compassion extends to neighbors
but God’s compassion extends to everyone and everything that lives.”
Ecclesiasticus 18: 13 

“Without suffering, there’d be no compassion.” Nicholas Sparks

Last night I was watching the many memorial services held throughout our nation to remember and mourn the 500,000 lives that have been lost this year due to the pandemic. As family members who have been left behind spoke of their loved ones who had died, their hearts were breaking.

Could we all be comforted by the words taken from Joel 2:13?
“Let your hearts be broken, turn to Yahweh your God again,
for God is all tenderness, rich in graciousness and full of compassion.”

Let your heart break.
Let it crack open
Let it fall apart
so you can see
its secret chambers,
the hidden spaces
where you have hesitated
to go.
from “Rend Your Heart” by Jan Richardson

Compassion can be demanding but it is found in many hidden spaces in our heart. Compassionate people are usually those who have had significant suffering or painful life events of their own. Their hearts are generous willing to experience a pain that pierces their own hearts as they accompany others in their suffering.

Compassion can be fierce or quiet. With the recent winter storms in Texas or during the pandemic with so many people losing jobs and struggling to put food on the table, a compassion that is fierce is very much in evidence. It can be found in our hearts, our neighborhoods and our world. It takes many forms whether raising funds to alleviate the suffering of those whose homes and livelihood have been destroyed or by volunteering to provide meals for families or choosing to deliver home-cooked meals to those who live alone.

Compassion that is quiet can take the form of attending prayer vigils or memorial services. 

Our Lenten journey this year in the midst of Covid 19 has turned our hearts to our own path of suffering. The Buddha once said that you could search the whole world over and not find anyone more deserving of love and compassion than yourself. 

How will you relate to your own pain and suffering with self- compassion?
Has there been any one of us who has not experienced losing someone we loved?
Have you been unable to visit with someone who is critically ill in a hospital?
How many times have you been saddened and missed visiting with family members or with friends in a nursing home?

Maybe during this season as we await the arrival of spring may we return to our compassionate God to ease our sorrowing hearts and bring us healing and peace.

“Healer of our Every Ill”  Calvin University’s Women’s Chorale

Joan Duffy, CSJ