Bishop Eric Menees
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)
The Spiritual Gift of Compassion is a gift that truly characterizes Christians and distinguishes us from the world. We are, all of us, called to follow Jesus’ example of being compassionate, but there are those of us who are endued by the Holy Spirit with an extra dose of compassion and a zeal to love and serve those who suffer; who are outcasts; who are alone.
Mr. Webster tells us that the origin of the modern word “Compassion” comes to us through Middle English, by way of Old French and ecclesiastical Latin compassio(n-), from Late Latin compati, meaning to ‘suffer with.’
The one with the gift of Compassion sees the suffering in the world around them and is given the desire and ability to speak hope and grace into that suffering.
When I think of the Spiritual Gift of Compassion, I think of the death of a former parishioner – Stasia Sterret. Stacia was a widow of about five years before I came to the church. When Stasia took ill, there was no one left in the family who could assist her, and for a week parishioners held a vigil with Stasia in the hospital - 24 hours a day - singing hymns, praying the psalms, and holding her hand. These people demonstrated the Spiritual Gift of Compassion. The thought of her dying alone was too much, and so they gave of their time, their hearts and their souls. Stasia died peacefully with two sisters in Christ by her side. The impact of their compassion on the church and on the hospital staff was evident for years to come – not to mention the grace given to a dying sister in Christ.
Those who have the Gift of Compassion recognize those who are hurting and are moved to be with them – to assist in any way possible. Those with this gift cannot take the suffering away, but they are willing to suffer with them. These are the men and women who go into the trenches to lift the head and heart of a broken soul.
Thanks be to God for those who have this gift; for those who by vocation and profession are there day in and day out, loving and caring. The unofficial prayer for this ministry is captured in the service of Evening Prayer:
“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.”
May the Lord bless and keep you all!
Catechism Questions 159 - 161
159. How does the Lord’s Prayer give you a pattern for prayer?
The Lord’s Prayer models the primary elements of fellowship with God: praise of God, acceptance of his rule and will, petition for his provision, confession of my sins (here called trespasses), forgiveness of others, avoidance of sin, and God’s protection from evil and Satan. I should pray regularly about these things in my own words. (Matthew 6:9)
160. What are the parts of the Lord’s Prayer?
The Lord’s Prayer begins with an address, makes seven petitions, adds a doxology, and concludes with “Amen.”
161. Describe the order of the petitions in the Lord’s Prayer.
As in the Ten Commandments, God’s Glory, Name, and Kingdom precede any petitions for our personal well-being.