Peace and Freedom Commentary
By John Francis Carey
Not to long ago, a friend of ours suffered a stroke. We were “called” to participate in his recovery, suffering and experience.
For over a year, we visited him several times a week. We almost never ran into any member of his large family or vast Catholic community.
He said, “Everyone is too busy.”
We developed a relationship based upon love, prayer and hope. But mostly Jesus Christ and all his teachings.
After he died, I was astounded by the great number of people who turned up at his wake. At his funeral, the Church was absolutely packed by his loving “friends and relatives.”
I had never seen any of them before. While he was sick — they were too busy.
I leaned over to the wife of the my dead friend and said, “Where have they all been?”
One of my favorite priests tells a story about being called to the bedside of a man near death in the middle of the night. During his visit, one of the man’s relatives said, “We’ve all been thinking about coming back to church.”
The priest said he held back the urge to holler, “WHY WAIT?”
We Christians are always called to do more. We are told, “You can’t serve God and Money,” but we drive around at high speed from one money-centered activity to another all our lives. When someone says, “Your friend Joe died last week,” ninety percent of us say, “I should have spent more time with him.”
If we do what we are supposed to do — we don’t have regrets.
When we do what the rest of society is doing — if we have any conscience at all — we end up with regrets.
Jesus teaches us to be different. He tells us and shows us in His own life to do better. To do more.
If we are like the Pharisees, we show up for an hour every Sunday. But during the week we do very little that emulates the life of Jesus Christ.
Then we show up at funerals. Just like good Pharisees.
Jesus is Compassion. He hugs the lepers. He visits the sick. He stops the stone throwers from stoning the prostitute. He tends to the poor and marginalized. He tells us about the Good Samaritan.
Because he is a Good Samaritan himself.
We Americans outsource all of that.
The Good Samaritan by Walter Rane — “I will not reject anyone who comes to me or needs me.”
How do we learn the compassion Jesus Christ teaches? First of all, we have to know what He teaches. What He does.
We listen to the word of God.
One Hour of week isn’t enough. At least it wasn’t for me.
I had to hear it more and learn to live the gospel in my own life by doing. Then by doing just a little bit more.
I had to go and serve the sick.
I had to do the gospel.
I had to hug the leper myself.
I had to go the extra mile — at least once in a while.
In this process, over many years, it seems to me that most Americans have lost compassion. Actually, they have compassion for sick puppies but deprive their own Grand Ma of proper, loving care. Most of our old folks are parked in nursing homes and visited only rarely. We find it impossible to keep “the ones we love the most” at home where we can love them the way Christ taught — because loving old people is difficult and eats into out time at work, on social media, or at sporting events, rock concerts and the like.
Our medical system often helps us by dispatching old folks to their assigned hole in the ground too soon — because supporting life becomes too costly or troublesome.
If you hang around in hospitals or nursing homes just a little bit you’ll see it for yourself.
So each day, I’ve tried to add a little compassion — a little Love of Jesus Christ.
That’s the forgotten love and the forgotten person in most American lives.
But far be it from me to lecture anybody. It took me more than 60 years of very fine Christian teaching and example to wake up — even a little bit. And that happened totally by God’s Hand and not my own when another Christian said to me, “Did it ever occur to you, that Your Life Does Not Belong To You?”
Art: Parable of the Dishonest Steward— By Eugene Burnand. Eventually we all have to make an accounting. If during the accounting you say, “I should have done much more,” expect Jesus to say, “Why didn’t you?”
From Thomas Gumbleton
In the Gospel Mark 6:30-34, we learn something about Jesus that is probably the most important thing that we really need to know about Jesus and the most important way in which we must try to follow him. We recall the circumstances of the Gospel: The disciples were tired, Jesus was tired.
They’d been preaching and healing and meeting people one after the other for many, many days. They were going to go away and have some rest, find peace and quiet. I think any of us can easily put ourselves in that circumstance where we would just be thrilled to have quiet time and peace. But then, as we heard in the Gospel, they go to their secluded place, but the people are there ahead of them. Notice, though, how Jesus acts.
It would be very ordinary for any one of us, and for Jesus too — he’s human — to be a bit irritated. “I thought we were going to get away, but look what’s happening.” But instead, Mark tells us, “As Jesus went ashore, he saw the large crowd, and Jesus had compassion on them.” Compassion — that is, I think, one of the most singular and important qualities, virtues of Jesus. What does it mean? It means to feel with others, enter into their circumstances, be one with them in their feelings, their pain, their hurt or joy and their excitement, but to be with them and enter into their framework.
That’s what it means to be compassionate. In fact, Jesus is the extraordinary, unmatchable example of compassion because St. Paul tells us in writing to the Corinthians, “Though he was God, he emptied himself, entered into our human history, became one like us in every way, gave himself over to suffering and even ignominious death on the cross.” Jesus became one like us so he could enter into all of our experiences, feelings, difficulties, joys and hopes.
That’s compassion — entering into the feelings of others. It’s the basis for reconciliation. That’s how people begin to come together, when someone is really compassionate toward another and the other experiences: “Yes, you do understand. We share together, whatever this is.” Extraordinary things can happen, as we hear in that letter to the church at Ephesus. Jews and Gentiles were enemies, and yet in Jesus, Paul says, “Jesus came to proclaim peace. Peace to you who are far off — the Gentiles. Peace to the Jews who were near.”
Through him — through Jesus — the two peoples approach the Father in one spirit. The barrier is broken down. There’s reconciliation. There’s peace because of compassion — Jesus becoming one like us in every way except sin and entering into our experience, becoming one with us. Of course, as his followers, this is the virtue that is so important in our lives — in everyday life, in our families, and our homes — to really be understanding of one another, to listen, to take in what the other is feeling.
Tags: American culture, American lifes, American lives, compassion, Conscience, dignity of human life, euthanasia, Good Samaritan, he emptied himself, He stops the stone throwers from stoning the prostitute, human life, Jesus Christ, live the gospel, love of Jesus Christ, pour yourself out, serve the sick, service to others, sick puppies, the compassion Jesus Christ teaches, the poor and marginalized, Thomas Gumbleton