Words of Faith: Compassion must be known before shared

July 9, 2013 

A few years ago, I heard a speaker tell a story about helping out a turtle. She was driving one day and came upon a turtle that was crossing the road. So she pulled her car to the side of the road, got out of the car, and picked up the turtle and moved it across the road.

At the time, I was shocked that a person would stop their busy life to move a turtle out of danger. But as I later discovered that there are many people who do this – people who show compassion, that is, even to the smallest of creaturesturtles.

In Luke’s gospel is we hear another story of compassion. Jesus meets a woman whose son has just died. The woman was a widow and had no other sons. In other words, there was no one to take care of her. For a woman at that time in history, this was a desperate state; there was now no one to take care of her. She was grieving both not only the loss of her son and but her uncertain future. When Jesus saw her, he had compassion for her.

“Do not weep.” Jesus said. Then He said to the dead body, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” Then the dead man sat up, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

Like this woman weAll of us, like this woman, experience the compassion of Jesus. Like this woman, We, too, have needs in our lives. Jesus knows all of our needsthem, and he meets us in the midst of themour these needs. We may find know the compassion of Jesus as he speaks to us through Holy Scripture. We may feel his know the compassion of Jesus through a friend who comes forward to help us when we are in need. Or we may see know the compassion of Jesus when the right door opens at just the right time.

We come to know know the compassion of Jesus in many different ways. And while our experience of his Jesus’s compassion may not be as concrete and visible as the widowed woman’s was, but it is just as real.

Recently, I also heard another story of compassion – about a class in Rock Hill that reached out to a soldier in need.

A second grade class in Rock Hill reached out to a soldier in need. Sgt. Justin Switzer, deployed in Afghanistan, was “adopted” by his sister-in-law’s second-grade class. The class followed what he did during his deployment and sent him letters. When they discovered that the soldiers would no longer be given breakfast by the Army, this class the second-graders decided to act. They collected breakfast food to send to Justin and his unit so that they could have breakfast each day. They collectedTheir inventory included grits, waffles, Pop Tarts and more, all amounting to 600 pounds of food. There was so much food, in fact, that the class fed not only Justin’s unit, but other units, too.

These second-graders showed compassion.

Often Jesus shows his compassion to others through us – through our words and actions. Because when we have receive compassion, we are called to pass it on to others. It’s often not easy. Showing compassion may mean serving others; it may require a sacrifice of our time or our money. But we can trust that when we show others compassion, Jesus still knows our needs, too, and he is still providing for our needs, toous also.

Thankfully, compassion is one of those virtues things that we can be learned by watching the examples of others; through others, we see that we are also capable of giving compassion, too. We see their examples and know that we can do it also.

That story of helping a the turtle has stayed with me all these years. In fact, I’ve heard the stories of other people who have also helped turtles. Then And last summer as I drove to my mother’s house, I saw a turtle in the middle of the road. At first I passed it by it. But then I stopped, turned around and went back; I got out of my car and helped that little turtle across the road.

After all, Jesus has shown me compassion. Now It is time for me to pass it on.

The Rev. Sally Franklin is pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal church in Fort Mill.

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