Monday, December 20th
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (NRSV)
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. ~ Colossians 3:12 (NRSV)
Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human. ~ Henri J.M. Nouwen
Our Advent invitation for today is a reminder to be attentive to those who are hurting and who need our compassion. We may not have the opportunity or circumstance to actually weep with compassion today, but we can be mindful to see others with care and concern, to notice someone who is quietly hurting, and to love them with compassion. Let’s be attentive to any prompting of the Spirit and to the needs of others – so that we do not miss a moment in which we might bless.
Tears can make us uncomfortable, can’t they? When I encounter someone crying, my first reaction is to help them stop. At times I try to encourage and uplift them, at times I try to comfort them, and at times I even try to get them to smile or laugh. These can all be helpful acts of kindness and love. But I will always treasure those times when a dear one came alongside to cry with me and for me. There is deep consolation in knowing one’s grief and sadness are shared and deeply felt by another.
I know of two times in which the Bible records that Jesus wept. Jesus cried when his friend Lazarus died, even when he knew that he would make him live again (John 11:33-36). Jesus also cried over Jerusalem, feeling sadness and compassion for the people who did not recognize “the things that make for peace” and who would soon turn against him (Luke 19:41-42). Even in his fear and frustration, Jesus wept with compassion for the people he loved.
Today, let’s be mindful to love with concern, comfort, and consolation. Let’s be mindful to love with compassion, to share in the grief and sorrow; to help others know that they are not alone in their sadness. May our tears become tender and visible acts of genuine, compassionate love for those who are in need.
Weep. Who needs our tears of loving compassion today?
Prayer: Compassionate God, through the life and the tears of Jesus, you have shown us how deeply you love and care for us. Open my eyes today to notice those who need tender care, to weep with those who grieve, and to seek your loving, compassionate presence in every moment. May I continue to glow with your steadfast love as I live and serve today. Amen