Archive for January 31st, 2017

Image may contain: text The word compassion’s word origin is literally “to suffer with”.  Why is it we do not want to be compassionate?  Fr. Nouwen, in this quote at least, does gives what sounds like a  reason:  we do not have the “inner disposition”. But why do we not have that inner disposition?  

In Martin Luther’s commentary on Romans wrote about the summation of the 2nd Table of the Law:  “Love your neighbor as yourself”.  Luther basically says this is a very hard commandment to keep.  Luther’s explanation includes a chart to describe the hardness of keeping the commandment.  Paraphrasing, he points out that it is easy to love my neighbor when he is whole, healthy, wealthy, wise, caring, and in good spirits.  But when I am “weak, vulnerable, lonely, broken”, down and out, and so suffering, I still want to be loved.  So love your neighbor as yourself. It is hard to do so.  This is why we do not have the inner disposition.  We do not love our neighbor as we ought and that sentence is used in the confession of sin.

Some of the fleeing is due to love, in that I hate to see my family member  or friend suffering…so I flee or offer a quick fix.  It is harder to be still with my neighbor and just be there.  Sometimes that is enough and it can be the start of prayer.  I think there is only one way to be with our friend or family member in the  struggle of suffering: the only Way is Jesus Christ.  He went to the places where we are weak, vulnerable, broken and lonely…when we were sinners and enemies of God.  He has been and still is to find us, bear us, heal us.  Our motives do not come from my best intentions and inner dispositions but Christ:  

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2: 20)

Christ Jesus took 33 years of His life on earth to bear our sin and be our Savior.  He long suffered with us, for us and this means we do so with our neighbor.  It is only in the confession that we do not love as ought and Christ loves us as He does.  In Him, we can and be honest about the desire to flee or offer mere advice…and go the places where my neighbor suffers as I have been consoled…every step with prayer.

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