What is Compassion?
Deep awareness of the suffering of another accompanied by the wish to relieve it.
[Middle English compassioun, from Late Latin compassiō, compassiōn-, from compassus, past participle of compatī, to sympathize : Latin com-, com- + Latin patī, to suffer; see pē(i)- in Indo-European roots.]
I wanted to follow up my Mother post with one about compassion. Compassion is a key characteristic of most women that I know. It comes naturally to some; like my wife for example. She cares for other people and is worried about my sons school teachers, the next door neighbor, and members of our church congregation. I am no longer amazed when she tells me she is making dinner for some family that had a new baby, or had a death, or is sick. She does so well with our boys and that does amaze me!
The hymn A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, always reminds me to be compassionate to others.
1. A poor, wayfaring Man of grief
Hath often crossed me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer nay.
I had not pow’r to ask his name,
Whereto he went, or whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye
That won my love; I knew not why.
2. Once, when my scanty meal was spread,
He entered; not a word he spake,
Just perishing for want of bread.
I gave him all; he blessed it, brake,
And ate, but gave me part again.
Mine was an angel’s portion then,
For while I fed with eager haste,
The crust was manna to my taste.
3. I spied him where a fountain burst
Clear from the rock; his strength was gone.
The heedless water mocked his thirst;
He heard it, saw it hurrying on.
I ran and raised the suff’rer up;
Thrice from the stream he drained my cup,
Dipped and returned it running o’er;
I drank and never thirsted more.
4. ‘Twas night; the floods were out; it blew
A winter hurricane aloof.
I heard his voice abroad and flew
To bid him welcome to my roof.
I warmed and clothed and cheered my guest
And laid him on my couch to rest,
Then made the earth my bed and seemed
In Eden’s garden while I dreamed.
5. Stript, wounded, beaten nigh to death,
I found him by the highway side.
I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,
Revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment–he was healed.
I had myself a wound concealed,
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart.
6. In pris’n I saw him next, condemned
To meet a traitor’s doom at morn.
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honored him ‘mid shame and scorn.
My friendship’s utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for him would die.
The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,
But my free spirit cried, “I will!”
7. Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in his hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name he named,
“Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto me.”
I feel this hymn teaches compassion through service to others and in this case the other is Christ.
It is written in St Mark Chapter 1:40-41, “And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.” Christ constantly taught the care for others by His example and with parables. The Good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10 is also good instruction on the subject of compassion; for everyone is our neighbor.