There is a moment in Jesus’ ministry that I return to often. Out in the countryside, He is followed by thousands eager to garner just a touch of Jesus, to listen to this one whose words flow with milk and honey, who is willing to step beyond the cultural norms of His day to open the kingdom of God to all. As He is among the people, the disciples are becoming quite concerned—I’d dare say compassion was taking root in them.
The question at hand was the wellbeing of those gathered, specifically, food. These people need to head back to the towns and cities for food, to be nourished. The emphasis of the disciples is in essence, ‘They need to take care of themselves!’ Read Mark 6:30-44.
We call this the miracle of fish and loaves. There wasn’t enough for all until there was more than enough for all! As the disciples instruct Jesus to send them away, He turns it back to them—“You give them something to eat!” There was a directive that they participate in the wellbeing of all gathered. As you read, they gather their meager rations of 5 loaves and 2 fish. This is what the 12 had for their journey. Not enough for thousands, enough to be shared among them though.
Was it in that moment that the miracle happened? That the community watched the sharing and as such, each began to pull their rations out to share (it was common to take rations on long walks). As Jesus blesses the meagerness of the feast, it quickly erupts into a bountiful party. In fact, there is more than enough for everyone to get their fill and have even more left over than when they began!
The easy road of compassion is to tell others that we feel their pain and good luck in solving it. The true way of compassion is ‘suffering with’ the other and being a part of their solution. Certainly there are times where this is abused, but most often when we participate with another, God uses us as heavenly gifts to the other. What concrete ways can you be a person of compassion? Go ahead, make a list…and then do it!