The Compassion of God gives us life and restores us to life!
An extract from the sermon given by Pope Francis on 6th June 2013
Our readings reveal the meaning of the biblical term compassion. Compassion is a sign of the Kingdom of God breaking forth. It reveals the character of God.
The first reading at Mass (1 Kings 17:17-24) records the resurrection of the son of the widow of Zarephath, of Sidon. That resurrection was worked by God, working through his Prophet Elijah. It was done out of compassion.
The Gospel account (Luke 7:11-17) of the resurrection of the only son of the widow of Nain reveals heavenly compassion working in and through the Incarnate Son of God. When Jesus saw the funeral procession and encountered the tears of a mother, he was moved with compassion.
A more accurate translation of the original Greek text is not captured by the English translation – “sorrow/pity”. It is better rendered by the translation – compassion: ‘the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her… And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother.’
What is revealed in this encounter is what the compassion of God really looks like in the flesh … it also reveals our own vocation as a Christian, no matter who we are – or what state in life or vocation we are living.
The Latin root from which we derive the English word ‘compassion’ actually means to enter into the suffering of another. It is about much more than sorrow/pity. It is a response, an action rooted in love. This kind of response is meant to characterize those who bear the name ‘Christian’. Christians live differently because we live now in Jesus Christ. We love differently because we love in Jesus Christ. We can truly become different, at the deepest level, when we cooperate with grace and allow the character of Christ to be formed in us, and to be manifest to others.