5th Monday of Lent: Compassion Must Always be First

It happens that as we grow in faith and seek to live a good and moral life, that we become more and more bothered by the things that others who are not on the same journey do.  When we wrestle with our own concupiscence and passions and we see others joyfully or boldly flaunting immorality or living almost free of any care of concern for their souls.  While on one hand, we know that we are not to judge; and on the other hand we know what true freedom is (living according to our meaning and purpose) – but we still fight a strong urge to judge, condemn maybe even those around us who live for themselves, are immoral, or hurt themselves or others by their actions.  On one hand, we can’t merely accept things without discerning; I know one of the greatest scourges in our world today, in our society, in our families and communities – is indifference!  We can’t be indifferent and we can’t look at sin or wrongdoing as acceptable.  Possibly the most often misused quotation (often taken out of context) is Pope Francis’ “who am I to judge”.  I have been in many conversations where people have assumed that the pope meant we should turn a blind eye to things that go on around us, and that if someone is a good person, “it’s not my problem”.  Unfortunately that’s not care and concern for another person’s well-being, and so just because we don’t judge or even pay attention to an action doesn’t mean we’ve fulfilled our Christian duty.

But what our Lord Jesus demonstrates in today’s Gospel (with the woman caught in adultery) and what the pope’s comment put into context demonstrates for us is this: we must see always with the eyes of compassion.  Jesus does not tell the woman that everything is okay, neither does He condemn her to death.  He tells her “go and sin no more”.  Those people whom we encounter who don’t seem to be living a good and moral life often have reasons; deep hurts, betrayals, unresolved anger with God, ignorance, they’ve never been given the right model for goodness and morality and the list goes on.  They are never going to find their way without a great deal of love, understanding, compassion and Christians like ourselves trying to help them by knowing them first.  Often in the brief encounters we have with people we are not going to get to the depths of their lives – so we are first and deeply compassionate.  You never know when the opportunity will come from love and compassion to enter into the depths of a person’s heart.  I know I do – because that is how I came to my faith was through compassion given to me.  The Lord knows, and He will use each one of us for that purpose if we let Him and we give Him the material to work with.

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