An Unlikely Pick: With a big smile, a little boy approached a farmer to buy one of his puppies. But the farmer discouraged the boy. “These puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal.” The boy dropped his head for a moment, then looked back at the farmer and said, “I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?” The farmer responded by whistling for the dogs. Out from the doghouse peeked a pup noticeably smaller than the others. Down the ramp it slid and began hobbling in an attempt to catch up with the others. The little boy cried out, “I want that one,” pointing to the runt. The farmer knelt down and said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you the way you would like.” The boy reached down and slowly pulled up one leg of his trousers – revealing a steel brace. Looking up at the farmer, he said, “You see, sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.” (Author unknown)
The Rocking Chair: There was once an elderly, despondent woman in a nursing home. She wouldn’t speak to anyone or request anything. She merely existed – rocking in her creaky old rocking chair. The old woman didn’t have many visitors. But every couple mornings, a concerned and wise young nurse would go into her room. She didn’t try to speak or ask questions of the old lady. She simply pulled up another rocking chair beside the old woman and rocked with her. Weeks or months later, the old woman finally spoke. ‘Thank you,’ she said. ‘Thank you for rocking with me.’” (Author unknown)
My Joy Complete In Them: Notre Dame cardiologist Dr. Paul Wright ‘72 journeyed to Calcutta to seek the wisdom of Mother Teresa. Dr. Wright desperately sought the answer to his burning question: “How will I be judged?” When Mother Teresa invited him to care for a dying leper, Dr. Paul failed miserably: “The dying person’s suffering and loneliness overwhelmed me. I recoiled from the stench of the infected wounds and tissues and walked out of the House of the Dying.” After apologizing to Mother Teresa, Dr. Paul listened carefully to her wisdom: “Dr. Paul, I do things that you cannot do, and you do things that I cannot do, but together we can do beautiful things for God.” Mother Teresa then advised Dr. Paul “to go home and grow in love and compassion in his own community.” She challenged him to be a cardiologist who would see his patients as the body of Christ.
The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place for themselves. Someone saw them going and the word got around. From the surrounding towns people went out on foot, running, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke – like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them. (The Message)
In this Sunday’s Scripture, we read of how Jesus’ little band of followers had been out student teaching to actualize their new skill-set by practicing preaching, healing, and casting out unclean spirits. They returned to give a Powerpoint presentation - which included graphs and pie charts - of their performance on the road so as to assess what worked and what didn’t work. No doubt, Jesus is interested in their efforts at customer service, mission performance, strategies for improving management and team leadership, along with safety awareness after confronting unclean spirits. However, Jesus senses their low hum of physical energy and requisitioned a boat to take them the four miles across the lake. After these field experiences of a new learning curve, these fishermen now are in much need to catch up with their own inner spirits with a little “R ‘n R”. Seems they were pursued by people with major “hunger” needs, yet these neophyte teachers had no time for a little fast food for themselves. By the time they reached the other side of the lake, the crowd, who had been coming and going, had already shown up. So much for “R ‘n R”. We hear of the Jerusalem paparazzi, along with a flash-mob-size of people with hopes to be healed, listened to, or be inspired, along with the least, the last, and the lost who frequented these deserted places and now seek to be nourished by the Word! Here Jesus steps from the boat, sets aside his personal agenda, and pours out his compassion on them for: “When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke” – What a powerful witness of self-transcendence!
So what is the Good News for us this week? Let us in our comings and goings practice the art of compassion this week:
• Compassion is a feeling deep within ourselves — a "quivering of the heart" — and it is also a way of acting — being affected by the suffering of others and moving on their behalf. (Spirituality and Practice)
• Do you have a deserted place that longs for you to visit so that you can ponder your own life in quiet?
• Are there things coming and going in your life that need your time, attention, and understanding?
• Are there things pursuing you: Your busy-ness? Your expectations? Others’ expectations? Your restlessness? Your fear? Your desire to be successful? You inner voice calling you to quieting?
• Are you willing to step out of your boat:
o of comfort and security?
o of your own agenda?
o of keeping others at “arms length” from your personal presence of kindness and generosity?
• How has your heart been broken open with compassion in your life’s journey? Are you willing to be vulnerable enough to practice again?
• What opportunities have been on your spiritual path that invited you to respond with self-transcendence?
Compassion Prayer by Henri J. M. Nouwen
Dear God, as you draw me ever deeper into your heart, I discover that my companions on the journey are women and men loved by you as fully and as intimately as I am. In your compassionate heart, there is a place for all of them. No one is excluded. Give me a share in your compassion, dear God so that your unlimited love may become visible in the way I love my brothers and sisters. Amen. (With Open Hands)
“The entire history of the universe has been the history of the outpouring of love. Karl Rahner reminded us that grace is nothing other than the Divine’s self-communication in love. God creates in order to give God’s self away in love. All that creation has ever been invited to do is accept this gift of love.” (Field of Compassion by Judy Cannato)