Father William McKee, CSsR

Webster defines compassion as: “A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another’s suffering or misfortune, accompanied by a
 deep desire to remove the pain and alleviate the sorrow.”

It’s comforting to think that Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, Redeemer of all of us, is a compassionate man. The New Testament
portrays a Christ who seemingly never could pass up anyone in pain: the blind, the deaf, the paralyzed, the crippled, the possessed, the
very sick and even the dead.

One of the many striking stories in the New Testament is that of the raising to life the dead son of the widow of Naim. Jesus is out
walking and sees the funeral cortege of the dead son. No one asked Him to do anything, not even the mother of the dead boy, but Jesus
simply sees her sorrow and raises her boy to life.

It is consoling to think that Jesus from His place in Heaven may see our sorrows and will alleviate them or help us carry them.

Assuredly the most compassionate act of our loving Savior was the institution of the Eucharist. As God He knew well the life-pains
all of us would be afflicted with and so He gave us something to help us. “This is my Body. This is my blood.” Words that have resounded
through the centuries, bringing us Himself in Holy Communion.
His love for us was so great that He could not bear being totally separated
from us when He went to Heaven.  So He gave us Himself in this most blessed Sacrament. Our weak and imperfect human minds are
incapable of fully understanding the nature and scope of this divine gift. But it is a fact and is present in every Mass and in every Tabernacle.

Jesus’ compassion shows itself also in the apparitions of his Blessed Mother.  There is an official list of 15 appearances by Mary to help
humanity bear the burdens of life. They started in Saragossa, Spain in 40 AD and have continued through the centuries to her latest appearance
at Medjugorje, Bosnia in this century. Jesus knows well that there is no one like a mother. And Mary is our Mother, a mother ever ready to help. 
The miracles She performs at places like Fatima and Lourdes are clear evidence of her and His compassion.

We priests are certainly called to a life of compassion.  It should be one of our top priorities if not the very top.   Sharing the Eucharist and
administering the other Sacraments are holy acts of compassion. They often help to alleviate pain. I’ll never forget the 82 year old woman who
had not been to confession in fifty years who said, after I had absolved her: “I feel like I’m 21 again.”

The scourging of Jesus, the crowning with thorns, the three falls on the way to Calvary were acts of compassion too large to define. His
bloody and pain filled death on the cross even more so. And it all was for our sake. He had no sins to expiate.

Jesus once said that there is no greater love than for a man to give up his life for another.  And He did that.  As we stand beneath a crucifix
and look up at the tortured figure of our Savior, we have to say, "This is what compassion is all about."  Never will we have to suffer alone. 
Our suffering Redeemer wants to be with us no matter where we are or what we are doing if we come to Him in purity of heart.

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