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Quotations from Saint Josemaria

The Compassion of Jesus

Tags: Charity, Following Christ
Soon afterwards he went to a city called Naim, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her.
And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, Do not weep. And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, Young man, I say to you, arise. And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother.
Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, A great prophet has arisen among us! and God has visited his people!
(Lk 7:11-16).

Do you remember the scene St Luke depicts when Jesus is approaching Naim? Jesus crosses paths again with a crowd of people. He could have passed by or waited until they called him. But he didn’t. He took the initiative, because he was moved by a widow’s sorrow. She had just lost all she had, her son.

The evangelist explains that Jesus was moved. Perhaps he even showed signs of it, as when Lazarus died. Jesus Christ was not, and is not, insensitive to the suffering that stems from love. He is pained at seeing children separated from their parents. He overcomes death so as to give life, to reunite those who love one another. But at the same time, he requires that we first admit the pre?eminence of divine love, which alone can inspire genuine Christian living.

Christ knows he is surrounded by a crowd which will be awed by the miracle and will tell the story all over the countryside. But he does not act artificially, merely for effect. Quite simply he is touched by that woman’s suffering and cannot keep from consoling her. So he goes up to her and says, Do not weep. It is like saying: I don’t want to see you crying; I have come on earth to bring joy and peace. And then comes the miracle, the sign of the power of Christ who is God. But first came his compassion, an evident sign of the tenderness of the heart of Christ the man.

If we don’t learn from Jesus, we will never love. If, like some people, we were to think that to keep a clean heart, a heart worthy of God, means not mixing it up, not contaminating it with human affection, we would become insensitive to other people’s pain and sorrow. We would he capable only of an “official charity,” something dry and soulless. But ours would not be the true charity of Jesus Christ, which involves affection and human warmth. In saying this, I am not supporting the mistaken theories – sad excuses – which misdirect hearts away from God and lead them into occasions of sin and perdition.

... If we want to help others, we must love them – I insist – with a love clothed in understanding, dedication, affection and voluntary humility. Then we will understand why our Lord summed up the whole law in that double commandment, which is really just one: love of God, and love of one’s neighbor, with all our heart.
Christ is Passing By, 166-167

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