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Daily reading: 23 August

Showing compassion and responding to vulnerability.

Something to read

When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, 'Lord, my servant is lying at home paralysed, in terrible distress.' And he said to him, 'I will come and cure him.'

Matthew 8, 5-7 New Revised Standard Version

Something to think about

Some needs are more popular than others. Some charities have money streaming into them, while others struggle year by year for survival. Animal charities tend to do better than children's charities – and children's charities do better than many others, those seeking to help the 'awkward' needy, or the 'threatening' needy.

In Jesus' day, there would be little popular sympathy for a high-ranking member of the 'enemy' – the oppressive rule of Rome. Why should we do anything for him? Yet human pain and suffering cuts across all these divisions in society. And here is an enemy with some heart, willing to ask a low-class member of a subdued people to show human compassion – and willing to call that person 'Lord'.

The centurion doesn't ask for anything; he simply states the need. But in doing that vulnerable thing, he opens up a new conversation and new possibilities.

Something to do

Reflect on what charities you have given to in this past year and consider your reasons for making those donations. Let your reflections guide your prayers and your giving.

Something to pray

Lord, give me more of your kind of compassion, the kind that sees past my own prejudices and assumptions and responds appropriately to genuine need. And keep my mind open when this need is brought to my attention by the kinds of people I have good reason to have little time for.

Today's contributor is Just Living, a fresh expression of church in Devon devoted to the Christian pursuit of justice for the poor and closely linked to Christian Aid.