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Compassion to action

From compassion to action.

Something to read

As they [Jesus and his disciples] were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed (…) There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’ The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, ‘Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!’ Jesus stood still and called them, saying, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, let our eyes be opened.’ Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.

- Matthew 20:29-34 (modified for clarity).

Something to think about

Imagine the scene: Jesus is leaving Jericho followed by a large crowd, what were they expecting to happen next? More teaching, storytelling or answering questions? What would you have said if you were in the crowd?

What happened next was the healing of the two blind men despite the interventions of the crowd. The two blind men address Jesus as a superior and with respect, yet the crowd dismiss them and try to silence them.

However, Jesus hears them and asks them directly what they want. The blind men respond directly with a specific request and Jesus responded exactly as they requested.

This is not the only place in the Gospels we hear of Jesus being moved with compassion to do something specific. The man is healed of leprosy in Mark 1:40-42 and in the feeding of crowds in Matthew 14:14 the gospel writer tells us that Jesus was moved by compassion.

In each case Jesus’ empathy with people’s suffering moves him to act, to do something with tangible impacts, whether it be healing people or feeding people. Jesus feels compassion and does not act passively but actively with specific actions which have lasting impacts.

Something to do

When have you been moved by compassion? What moves you to actually actively ‘do’ something in response to a concern you have about the world, whether it be a specific action, talking to people or to raise awareness of an issue? 

Think of those people, situations and circumstances you have felt compassion for in the past few days. Pick one of these and actively do something about it, be moved from compassion into action.

Something to pray

Compassionate God, help me to have empathy with those who are suffering in this world. Soften my heart and allow me to see what breaks your heart. Help me to discern how I can best take action in situations to work for renewal towards in this world at this time. Amen.

Today’s contributor is Jenny Holden, who at time of writing this was a final-year ordinand in the Scottish Episcopal Church from the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney, currently based in Edinburgh.