Sunday, December 27, 2015

Put On Heartfelt Compassion

By Jim Bayne

Hannah, his mother, approached Eli and said: “Pardon, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request. Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD.” Hannah left Samuel there. 1 SAM:26-28

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD. PS 84:1-2

Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. COL 3:12-13

After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions....”Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man. Luke 2:46, 48-52

O Lord, I so want to experience the loveliness of your dwelling!! Help me listen and ask questions as Jesus did and to be open to new ideas so that I too can grow in wisdom and knowledge and grow ever closer to you and to your dwelling. Help me to live with heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with and forgiving those around me. Amen.

I read recently that if you ask three Jewish scholars for an explanation of a particular passage of the Torah, you will get four different opinions. No one opinion is considered better than the other. It is assumed that each has merit and should be considered.

In an address to the bishops and cardinals of the Curia this past week, Pope Francis told them that charity and truth are “inseparable virtues of the Christian existence.”

“Charity without truth becomes an ideology of destructive do-gooding and truth without charity becomes blind ‘judicialism.’”

Luke tells us that when at the temple, Jesus listened and asked questions. He then went home and was obedient to Joseph and Mary. As a result of living in this healthy and observant Jewish family, Jesus grew in “wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”

Samuel in the first reading also grew up in the temple area where he was exposed to a variety of different Jewish ideas. He too listened to Eli (and others) and grew in wisdom and age, and became the first great Jewish prophet. It is through a commitment to study, openness to new and sometime conflicting ideas, and obedience to the prompting of the Spirit that we, too, can come to see "how lovely is the dwelling place of the Lord." In this way we grow in wisdom and favor before God and man. Charity and Truth meet and become Mercy.

As we grow in wisdom and knowledge and in our love for God and neighbor, it becomes easier to live out Paul’s admonition to “put on...heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility and patience;” attitudes sorely needed in our world today.

Make a New Year’s resolution to increase the amount of time you spend this year being open to the ideas of others with an eye to growing in wisdom and knowledge before God and man. Perhaps by listening to, respecting, and working with others we can begin to find answers to some of life’s most complex questions. 

Take time to consider how well you have been living Paul’s admonition expressed in COL 3:12-13. How does exhibiting the inseparable virtues of charity and truth help you do this?

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