Feast of St. Andrew, apostle
The rain said to the wind,
"You push and I’ll pelt."
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged – though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt. – Robert Frost
How often in the gospels we read these words: "Jesus had compassion on the multitude." (Matthew 9:36) "When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her…" (Luke 7: 13) And in today’s gospel, "My heart is moved with pity for the crowd." (Mathew 15:32) Before he acted, Jesus first felt sorry for the people because of what they were going through. He knew "how the flowers felt."
The theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer." The philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer noted, "Compassion is the basis for all morality."
A practical way for us to prepare for worship on Sunday is to read or watch the news. It is here that we see our human family suffering and in pain. We read about the victims of war and terrorism, and the victims of fires and floods. We hear about those suffering from hunger and homelessness, and about the sick and the unemployed. On and on goes the list of human problems.
From either our personal experience or through our imagination we can say, as Jesus would, "I understand what they are going through." Compassion is a great motivator. It can move us to pray earnestly for others. It can move us to take action. It can also move us to tears. We may not be able to feed all the hungry stomachs we encounter. But if we share our tears with them, they will know that someone understands and cares. They will know they are not suffering alone. There is nourishment and strength in mingled tears.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com