Divine Word Missionaries

Arnold Janssen
Spirituality Center


AJSC

Compassion:
Afire with Christ,
Committed to LIFE

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Compassion:
Afire with Christ, Committed to LIFE

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Reflection Sheet >>

Begin with a prayer of opening a space in our heart for others (ex. Tonglen prayer)

Compassion is very much about making a space for others in our hearts and minds.

Slide 1: Theme

I chose this theme for our renewal in hopes that we might animate ourselves together for our upcoming General Chapter which has the theme

Afire with Christ, Committed

For me Compassion is the lived expression of this theme

( It is about being afire with and for the whole Body of Christ and committed to its Life, Life to the Full)

Slide II: Jesus Afire with Abba

We are to be afire with Christ as Jesus was afire with Abba. His Abba was His life. From the security and peacefulness of this closeness Jesus drew His vitality for mission and his openness to others. It was the center of all His relationships with others and with everything in His life. The oneness and vitality of Jesus relationship with his Abba brought a unity in Jesus life between Himself and his Mission. He was his mission: The glory of God shown out through all he was and in all his relationships.

Explain diagram in slide

Who was the Abba whom Jesus was so afire with. The fire burning in Jesus was the over-powering experience that God loves this world and human beings so unconditionally

(Acknowledgement: From here to through slide 9 much in the text is taken from John Fullenbach’s retreat given to the SSpS in Techny August 2006)
In the book of Exodus God reveals God self as the One who will be with us as humankind. God is the one who hears the cries of those living in oppression and who is determined to do something about it.

I have seen the miserable state of my people in Egypt have heard their cry to be free of their slave-drivers. Yes, I am well aware of their suffering. I mean to deliver them out of the hand of their oppressors. (Ex. 3:7-9)
The God of the Bible is a God who - while looking at his creation - sees, hears and is emotionally upsets by the misery, the suffering, the pain, the oppression and the injustices done to each other. It "pains" him, he "suffers" under what he sees, hears and feels. It is the situation in which he finds his creation that affects him, a situation best described as "lack of life" or as "diminished" life. God cannot stand this state of affair, he, the "Lover of Life" (Wis11 :24-26), spontaneously wants to take this lack away and to bring the fullness of life. In order to accomplish his promise God chose Moses, one of the oppressed, to be his agent of life.

Slide III: Greek and Hebrew words for Compassion

Yes, Jesus, Abba was a God of Compassion

The Hebrew word for Abba’s sentiment and feelings toward His creatures is rahamin generally translated as compassion. . The word is taken from Womb of a woman. It signifies loving the way a mother loves the child of her womb, nourishing, giving life. It is a very feminine and motherly term and speaks of the ability to suffer with, to enter deeply into the situation of the other, to be filled with empathy, as if one is experiencing the situation personally. The word really means to be able to share the sufferings and pains of another and also to experience their joy and happiness as if it was all happening to me. It means to love unconditionally and with all the fibers of ones being in total self-surrender and with passion. (Being Aflame for Life)

The Greek word spangchna used to describe Jesus ‘feeling compassionate refer to the entrails of the body, the guts where our most intimate and intense emotions are located.
It means there is fire in the belly for Life I feel so strong with you that I mean to do something about it.

Slide 4 and 5 Examples of God’s compassion in Scripture

In the Bible the word Compassion is used 12 times and is used to describe God or Jesus. Read passages

Slide 6: Slide of Compassionate God (talk about picture)

Slide 7: Compassion is Solidarity, Oneness

Compassion as revealed in Jesus is not a bending down towards the underprivileged from a privileged position. It is not a reaching out from on high to those who are miserable and below, it is not a gesture of sympathy or pity to those who have failed to make it. On the contrary, the compassion of God means that he moves directly to those people and places where suffering is visible and most tangible, and pitches his tent there, and does not turn back before having experienced himself all the misery, anxiety, loneliness, pain and suffering of the human race. God can be found most among the rejects, the outcasts, the marginalized.

Compassion manifests itself first of all in the consciousness of being part of humanity, in the awareness of the oneness of the human race, in the intimate knowledge that all people, wherever they dwell in time or place, are bound together by the same human' condition. Through this inner sense of solidarity the even deeper bond with all of, creation can be sensed. (H. Nouwen Compassion) Compassion is solidarity: oneness

A Hardness comes over us because we divide ourselves off from parts of human kind instead of opening ourselves to our oneness. We look at life in a dualistic rather than compassionate way They and us, the Iraqis and the Americans, the terrorists and the good people. We are all one and if we fight , we fight ourselves. Thich, Nhat Hanh, the famous Vietnames Buddhist monk, talks of the rose and the garbage they seem so different, but they are one. One is so unappealing , the other so appealing. But in a week the rose will become the garbage and if you are a good gardener in a few months the garbage can become a rose again for you. An essential characteristic of compassion is this inner sense of solidarity, oneness, expressed in the Song : ONE

Slide 8: Gnadenstuhl

The cross remains THE revelation of God's unconditional, compassionate love.

No one has ever seen God. It is the only Son who is nearest to the Father's heart, who has made him known (Jn 1:18).
Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son... God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but to save it (Jn 3:16-17).

Compassionate love means God did not redeem the world by reaching down from on high but by "coming down" into our human misery and "loving it through" by experiencing it to the ultimate limits. In experiencing the effect of sin as condemnation, God took upon himself in Jesus Christ what would have been the destiny of a humankind that had rejected the very foundation of its existence - "He descended into Hell!"

Slide 9: Gnadenstuhl

Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate( whole, perfect). This will forever remain the guideline for all our relationships if we decide to enter into fellowship with Jesus. By putting our feet into his footprints and looking constantly at him and at how he revealed God's own compassion in his words and actions, we can gradually come to feel true compassion, and to love with compassion as he did. We will become compassionate people, and so will start acting as God acts. We will become like him.

Slide 10: Universal Heart of God

Jesus was a man of compassion and the message that burned like fire within him was that of the universal heart of his ABBA , a God whose stomach turns over at the sight of abandoned and crushed people. Abba loves them each and all with womb love. The question of how far I truly have become a disciple of the Lord will always be the following: "How compassionate a person am I?" The measuring stick of discipleship is Jesus demand; "You should be as compassionate as your Father in heaven is compassionate" (Lk 6:36). We can only do this is we find our place in this universal heart of ABBA

Slide 11: Afire with Christ: committed to Life

This is our chapter theme and it can best be put into flesh by being women of compassion. And Compassion begins at home in our communities, those we share our bread and time with. The CLT gives us some heart felt advice in the last SSpS Information Services. “Let us then take our daily personal time seriously for contemplating God’s presence in each person starting with our fellow sisters and then in people we meet daily. And only then can we learn how to respect every person despite differences in ideas, colors, religions, culture etc. That is the gift the world longs for at this moment .”

Song: ONE

Slide 12 Jesus at table with the sinners:

(Beginning of a prayerful reflection)

Reader 1: In front of you is a picture made by Sieger Koeder. Look at it an allow the picture to speak to you . Notice the darkness and light in the picture. Just look and notice what you see…
A group of seven people have gathered around the table. It is a varied group, a very unusual group: seven people who in ordinary life would most likely never eat together at the same table. After each person is described, there will be a pause to get the feel of this person and what it would be like to live with such a person in community.

Reader 2: There is the Jew. You can recognize him by his shawl. A Jew? He represents the chosen race, the people still awaiting the Messiah, not knowing that he is already among them. The Jew represents those faithful to the letter of the law, not ready to change, questioning everything that is new, hanging on to the old and the traditional…….

Reader 1: Besides the Jew is the call girl, the prostitute, the one craving for love. She holds the glass to her heart as if to be clinging to what will give her some pleasure. Her eyes are wide open –a sign that perhaps she is restless and searching for something more than herself. We can think of Mary Magdalene or the woman caught in adultery.

Reader 2: The old woman is completely turned in on herself. She is the only one in the group who does not look toward the light. Her hands are crossed. She can only see herself and is absorbed in her own misery. Her hurts seem to have taken away any hope she may have had. Does she remind you of the bent over woman whom Jesus healed on the Sabbath.

Reader 1: The clown is next . He does not show us or anyone his real face. Is he afraid to be who he really is? The face laughs but the heart cries. He seems to hiding himself in the back, in the shadows. There he doesn’t need to show his fears, his hurts and his loneliness. His mask covers this even when he looks himself in the mirror. He can always play games.

Reader 2: Then comes the intellectual, the learned one who has all the answers. He believes only what he can understand and prove. He lives in his head, but his heart is dead. His face gives the impression of cynicism and smugness. In all his cockiness is he afraid to make the long journey from his head to his heart. Where he can feel his own any other peoples insecurities and questions?

Reader 1: And there is the rich woman. You can tell she has money by the big rings she wears and by the lace of the veil. She has all she needs and she knows she is rich. She does not need others. She can support herself. She is not ready to ask for or receive anything form the group. Her face held by her right hand gives the impression of boredom and looking down on those she is with.

Reader 2: The black man is injured, but his wound is covered. Does he bear the pain of war, injustice and prejudice? It is the right hand which is bandaged, the arm and hand which he most needs. He is the only dark person in the group. How does he feel among the group? How does the group feel about him? His arm is wounded, but his heart and posture seem open. Is he hoping for a sign which expresses acceptance of his dignity and sacredness?

Reader 1: And then we see the hands of Jesus who has invited them all to this table of fellowship. His left hand is extended in welcome and compassion. His right arm shares the broken bread, his very self with the guests. The light and the rose on the table in the midst of the group symbolize that Jesus is for them a Light brightening their darkness, a joy bringing Good News to their sad and broken lives, Hope which is like a song in their despair.

Reader 2: You are invited to take your place at this table. As you look at the persons gathered around the table , do you recognize something of yourself in them, your own brokenness and sinfulness… Sitting there can you accept the welcome, the Love, the Light , the Joy Jesus offers? He addresses you and each of the guests by name and at the same time asks you to be brothers and sisters in the one family of God. Can you allow Him to share His very self with you?

Reader 1: After you receive Jesus welcome and light and joy, Jesus invites you to take His place in this community. Can you take his place?….Extending your hand in welcome to each person present here, sharing yourself in love with each one? What does this mean for you? Are you willing to be brother and sister with the people you live and work with?

Reader 2: On the right side we see the open window. Strong and free in Jesus love we are invited to break open the bread of our lives and extend it to those beyond. You are invited to go out and share yourself in love, tearing down the walls that divide and separate peoples and instead strengthen their bonds of trust. Yes, you are to reach out as brothers and sisters, giving birth to the Kingdom among us: respect, love, Compassion for all in the one family of God.

Reader 1: On the left side of the picture is the compassionate Father, welcoming his son. Predominate however, is the elder son who refuses to come in and join in the feast. Does he remind me perhaps of my own attitudes of considering myself faithful and good while at the same time looking down on “the sinners”, my own brothers and sisters? …
We always have a choice to live in the darkness or to live in the light!

See Also: PowerPoint Presentation >>
Reflection Sheet >>