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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, July 19, 2016
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala
OPINIONS

Rock & Refuge

Deepening our compassion

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory. (Mt 12,20) With these words, we are given a clear idea of the extent to which God's mercy and compassion for us, sinners all, go.

God through Christ in the Holy Spirit is not scandalized and horrified by our sins, weaknesses and errors, no matter how grave they are and how hopeless our given situation may look. He is always there to help, to heal, to give us some relief, to bring us back to him from whom we come and to whom we belong in a most intimate way.

He is even willing to suffer and die for us, as acted out precisely by Christ, the son of God who became man. He is willing to inconvenience himself for us, as personified in the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Good Shepherd. He will look for us, and do everything to recover us.

Of course, sin is sin and there can be no uglier thing than that. Still, God's love for us is stronger and more resilient than the gravest sin that we can commit. This is the good news that we have to live ourselves and spread around widely.

Christ's heart flowed always with compassion, quick to notice the needs of others and to respond to them. And all this in all simplicity, telling the beneficiaries who were so bursting with gratitude that they wanted to broadcast what they received to the whole world, to keep quiet instead.

It's an example that we should all try to imitate. One deep desire we should have is that of making as some kind of default mode that attitude of thinking always of the others, wishing them well all the time and doing whatever we can to help.

It's obviously not easy to do, but we can always try. With God's grace and with our persistent effort, we can little by little and day by day hack it, such that it becomes second nature to us to think and feel for the others. That's what compassion is all about.

Compassion starts in the heart, in our thoughts and desires. In this level, there is no limit in what we can do. Obviously, when we try to translate these prayers, thoughts and desires into action and material things, we can be greatly limited.

But insofar as prayers and sacrifices are involved, the possibilities

are unlimited.

We need to examine ourselves more deeply to see if indeed we are always thinking, praying and wishing others well. We have to be wary of our tendency to let our thoughts and desires be dictated only by self-interest, usually done in a most subtle but effective way. For this, we have to do regular examination of conscience.

We have to expand our heart to be make it more universal, as well as broaden our mind so we can understand different people and different things more deeply and extensively.

Let's examine ourselves more thoroughly so as to be more aware of our biases and preferences that can get in the way of our effort to adapt and our pursuit for a more universal compassion.

We have to learn how to go through the process of changing, improving and growing in our spiritual life. This can be painful and tedious, but it is always worthwhile. Not only that. It is necessary, if we have to be realistic.

Compassion should not be exclusively associated with the sweet and tender moments of pity, sympathy and empathy. It demands sacrifice and self-denial which we should be willing to give.

For this, we have to be willing to complicate our life. There surely will be some need for adjustments in our attitudes, in the way we understand things and view different kinds of people. We have to hone up our skills at versatility, which should not only be a matter of theatric performance but rather that of genuine love for God and for souls.

We have to learn how to flow with the times whose developments are getting more rapid and more varied. We should learn to be very discerning, knowing how to identify and derive anything good that is in any person, situation, ideology, etc., but knowing also their defects, errors, limitations so as not to be trapped by them.

Tremendous, indeed! Overwhelming, perhaps. But we can hack it, no doubt about that, as long as we know how to go to God and how to demand on ourselves.*

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