And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.”  As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him.  Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him. Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”  Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.  And He said, “Where have you laid him?”  They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”  Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”  And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?” (John 11: 28-37.)


                Four days earlier, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus had taken ill and was in grave danger.  Despite his great love for Mary and her family, Jesus did not set out for Bethany until two days later; after Lazarus had died (he purposefully allowed Lazarus to die so he could raise him from the dead.)  When Jesus arrived Mary and Martha were weeping over the loss of their brother.  Jesus was filled with compassion and empathy; his heart began to grieve with theirs, and he joined them in weeping.  His tears were not shed for the loss of Lazarus (for he knew that he would soon be resurrected); instead, Jesus cried because he deeply felt their suffering.  They believed their loved one was lost.  Concerning compassion, God has no equal; he is filled with it.  Compassion is defined asa feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”

                One day I happened by a man named Eric.  He was sitting outside of the coffee shop, slouching in a chair; he looked more dead than alive.  Eric was sweating profusely and his skin was pale and clammy.  His clothes were old and tattered and he badly needed a shower.  Seeing his pain, I was moved to sit down and talk with him.  He was experiencing heroine withdrawal and was very sick.  I took him out to eat and got him some clean clothes.  Later, as his condition became increasingly worse I took him to the hospital.  I sat in the emergency room with Eric for hours; eventually I accompanied him in to see the doctor.  He was treated, and released.  Before dropping Eric off, I bought him some food and supplies, and told him that I was available if he needed anything.  Nearly a year later, Eric showed up at the coffee shop to say hello.  He told me that after our interaction, he had nearly died and was hospitalized for an extended period of time.  He thanked me for my efforts, and said that without my assistance, he might not be alive.  He was grateful that (even when his friends had abandoned him) someone had cared enough to help.  Although Eric thanked me, I reassured him that it was God who deserved the credit; for it was God who felt compassion for him and moved me to action; without God’s Spirit, guidance, and direction, I would have kept walking, just like everyone else.

                The Holy Spirit brings the love of God in to the hearts of men.  God shares his emotions, concerns, and compassion with those who believe, and in so doing, human beings are moved to acts of great kindness and mercy.  The closer we grow to God, the more compassion we feel for those who are hurting.  God carries the wounds of the world around with Him every day.   When someone is beaten, God feels every strike.  When someone is sick, our Father comes down with the flu.  When a child falls, God inspires their parents to comfort them.  Wherever love abounds, God’s spirit can found.  Where there is indifference and a lack of compassion, there is an absence of God’s presence within the human heart.  There are so many broken people in this world who need to be loved; many pass by the afflicted every day without stopping to consider them; but God compels some to act.  May God’s compassion lead you to action; may you feel what God feels; may you see with His eyes; may you be used to relieve the suffering of others, and may you be a vessel of God’s mercy in a world filled with hurting people.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to know You and to be filled with Your compassion.  Inspire our hearts to be sensitive to those who are hurting; give us the strength to reach out and be kind to the needy.  May we love even strangers, knowing that they are Your children.  Use us to express Your goodness and mercy to those who need to know that there is a God who loves them.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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