Compassion, Pity, Mercy
Last year during Lent we traveled to NYC to celebrate my birthday with my son. Sometimes you have to dig deep in that sea of humanity to find something to smile about. But one afternoon while riding the subway I witnessed the most tender moment. A pregnant woman got on the train car and was visibly tired and overwhelmed. Another woman motioned to her, and then got up from her seat so that the pregnant woman could take her place. Undoubtedly remembering a moment in her own life when she felt equally tired and overwhelmed, she looked upon the pregnant woman with pity, showed compassion, and extended mercy. It was a simple moment full of grace and I tucked it into my heart where it will remind me to choose kindness always.
Jesus told his followers, “When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me…For whatever you did for any of my people, not matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.” Matthew 25
It is easy to take the words hungry, thirsty, naked and in prison literally, and decide we really don’t know anyone in our own circle who is actually hungry or naked or thirsty. But we are actually surrounded by people, even in our own families, who are both hungry and thirsty for meaning and purpose. We are surrounded by people with whom we can “get up and share our seat.” Who in my own circle am I blessing with compassion, pity, and mercy?
During Lent we practice three spiritual disciplines; prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The word alms comes from the Greek word eleemosyne, which means “compassion or pity,” and is itself from the word eleos, which means “mercy.”
Maybe this week we can share an act of compassion or mercy with both a loved one and a stranger each day.
Pray, Fast, Serve