Reflection on 7th Sunday: 20th February 2022

Compassion

‘Compassionate action means working with ourselves as much as working with others.’1 When we are at the receiving end of the negative actions of others, we are asked to look beyond the actions themselves and see what is at the root of their negative behaviour: ‘fear, anger, jealousy, ignorance, indifference; being overpowered by addictions of all kinds; arrogance, pride, selfishness. We are being asked to have compassion and to care for these people and also not to run from the pain of finding these things in ourselves.’2 ‘What if I should discover that the most impudent of offenders are all within me; and that I stand in need of the alms of my own kindness; that I, myself, am the enemy who must be loved — what then?’3 ‘Compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all the wounded parts of ourselves, all those imperfections that we don’t even want to look at. As we learn to have compassion for ourselves, the circle of compassion for others becomes wider.’2

In the scientific study of positive psychology, self-compassion is considered to be the most important topic in psychology. ‘Why? Because we learned through experience, in our own life and the life of our clients, that it affects virtually everything. We believe the relationship we have with ourselves shapes our daily experiences profoundly. If we do not accept ourselves for who we are and we feel that we can only be “enough” if we reach certain standards, we are bound to a life of suffering.’4 ‘We continually struggle with the paradox of the mixture of good and bad within ourselves, within others, within reality. We can only surrender to the mystery of that paradox by trustfully allowing God to lovingly hold together the opposites within us, within our neighbour, even our enemy and within reality itself.’5 ‘Compassion does not originate in us. It begins with God.’6 ‘In choosing to be compassionate, we are yielding to the compassionate nature of God flowing through us. Compassion is the love that recognises and goes forth to identify with the preciousness of all that is lost and broken within ourselves and others.’1

Adapted: [1]James Finley [2] Pema Chodron [3] Carl Jung [4]
https://positivepsychology.com [5] Richard Rohr [6] CS Lewis

Gospel: Luke 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples: “But I say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too; to the man who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who love you, what thanks can you expect? For even sinners do that much. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to received, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount Instead, love your enemies and do good, and lend without any hope of return. You will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

“Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.”