The Compassion of Christ

“Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.” 

In the first reading we hear Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians to be compassionate with one another. He calls them, and in turn calls us, to be imitators of Christ in everything we do. What St. Paul is urging us to do is not easy. Immorality, impurity, greed, obscenity, and suggestive talk are all actions that we should rebuke. Rather than participating in deeds that distance us from Christ and His Kingdom, we are called to be thankful and compassionate. We are to live as children of light.

In today’s Gospel, Christ teaches us how to be compassionate. When he sees a woman who was “crippled by the Spirit” he calls out to her and heals her of her infirmity. In doing so, he angers the leader of the synagogue. The leader of the synagogue accuses Christ of not keeping holy the Sabbath because He cured the woman. Christ then rebukes him by calling him a hypocrite. Christ’s reasoning took me a very long time to understand. He asks the leader of the synagogue, “Does not each one of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering?” I thought Christ was comparing the work they do with their animals to the work He did in curing the crippled woman. What I now understand is that Christ sees the watering of animals as compassionate. One would not deny an animal sustenance on the Sabbath in order to keep the day holy. Rather, one would be compassionate to the animal and grant the animal its need for water and food. In the same way, Christ did not deny the woman the compassion of healing her from her infirmity. By watering the animals their physical needs are met. In curing the woman, not only are her physical needs met but her spiritual needs are as well because we are told it was Satan who kept her in slavery and caused her infirmity. Curing the woman from her physical infirmity shows us that Christ came to cure us of our spiritual infirmities.

May we be Christ-like in our compassion toward others and may we always look for and find the face of Christ in one another.

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Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO and teaches English Language Development and Spanish to high schoolers. She is married to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at