The word compassion has an interesting meaning. The Latin of this word literally means to “suffer with.” It denotes an action more than a feeling. To say I am compassionate and never serve or help others is merely lip service and impacts no one. Instead, to suffer with is an invitation to dive into another’s life and be present with them in the midst of their struggle.
The Book of Proverbs admonishes the faithful with these words—“Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable. Speak out in order to judge with righteousness and to defend the needy and the poor.” Proverbs 31:8-9
Or, in Jesus’ own words, He opens the scroll of Isaiah and makes clear at the start of his ministry His purpose for walking among us. He proclaims,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19
When you read these words, what do you hear? Where is compassion embodied in the proclamations? What actions are we invited to enact? Often, we are reading these words not as an oppressed people but a free people. Nevertheless, there is space in here for us to come together to be advocates of compassion for the least, the lost and the poor. Though Jesus said that ‘the poor will always be among you,’ it wasn’t an invitation to ignore them. Instead, how we treat the other is the embodied proclamation of what we believe!