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Virtue of the Month

Virtue of the Month - COMPASSION

This month we are reflecting on the virtue of COMPASSION.  Call me weird, but I have always enjoyed learning what words mean and how they are pieced together.  When you see an existing word broken down into its particular parts, you sometimes see a word and its meaning in a whole new way.  For example, the word sincere means to be honest and true, no falsehood.  The word sincere literally means “without wax.”  Huh?  How is that?  The Latin prefix “sin-“ means without.  The Latin word “cera” means wax.  Many centuries ago, sculptors would smear wax over the cracks that were found in old, crumbling statues.  The wax would cover up the flaws, and the statue would look new again.  But it was fake.  A wax covered statue is not sincere.  Human behavior can be compared to this.  If we act fake and try to cover up our flaws with “wax,” then we are not being true to ourselves, others, or God. 


So now, let’s look at COMPASSION.  The prefix “com-“ means with.  The Latin word “passion” means suffer.   So COMPASSION actually means to suffer with.  Wow!  Usually when we think of the word COMPASSION, we think of having a heart for someone who is having a tough time.  But being willing to suffer with someone takes it to a deeper level!  Jesus showed all of humanity COMPASSION when he came to earth and became one of us.  He literally suffered as we suffer.  He experienced sadness, righteous anger, frustration, betrayal, physical and emotional pain, tears, heartache, and so much more. 


We can show COMPASSION to God and others.  First, we can show COMPASSION to God by actually suffering along with him.  How do we do this?  Scripture says that we can make up with is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.  This may sound strange.  How is Jesus’ suffering lacking?  Objectively, his suffering lacks nothing.  Subjectively, it lacks our participation.  He wants his sufferings to bear fruit in each of our lives.  It lacks only in that he longs for us to join him.  He never intended to suffer it alone.  He loves us so much that he invites us to unite our suffering with his on the Cross (and therefore, the Mass).  This means our suffering is never wasted as long as it is united to the Lord’s suffering!  We are the Body of Christ.  It only makes sense that as Christians we are called to embrace our suffering.  If Jesus endured it, how could we expect anything less? 


Second, we can show COMPASSION to others.  We do this when we are willing to put aside our own plans and comforts, and we decide that we are actually going to enter into a suffering situation with another person, whether this person is a family member, friend, or perfect stranger.  I think of the Good Samaritan.  He could have offered a prayer for the poor guy (just as the Jewish priests probably did) as he passed along on the road to Jericho, but instead he decided to get involved and get his hands dirty.  He jumped into the misery of this poor guy’s life.  He took time to care for the man.  He literally carried him on his animal to the closest inn and then gave the innkeeper money to help take care of the man.  The Samaritan made a huge investment.  The Samaritan went the extra mile.  The Samaritan shows what COMPASSION is all about. 


Thank you to everyone for showing COMPASSION recently to the Ourso Family.  This is virtue in action.  This is what Christ alive in our hearts looks like. COMPASSION has been made visible here at St. Peter Catholic School.  Let’s continue to look for ways to show COMPASSION to those in need.


Holy Week is not far away.  We will enter soon into the depths of the Lord’s PASSION . . . the suffering he endured for our salvation.  May we never forget . . . and may we be willing to “suffer with” him.


Peace to you and families,


Clint Goss

Coordinator of Religious Education