We have just celebrated the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in whom we find the perfect expression of God’s merciful and compassionate love for each one of us. A young boy recently said of God’s love, “yes! I can feel Him hugging my heart!” There can be no better way of expressing what God wants us to experience!
Be compassionate in the Gospel of Luke is the same as be perfect in Matthew. To be perfect means to become ripe, like fruit. This is not a command but an invitation through which Jesus asks us to allow a compassionate heart to ripen within us; to become mature in compassion.
Compassion is firstly about a way of interior being and secondly about external action. The interior and exterior should come together spontaneously but they often do not because we are sometimes more concerned with the outer appearance of things and less concerned with the inner reality of the heart which is the primary dwelling place of God.
The invitation of Jesus is that our compassion would flow from the compassion of God and in order for this to happen we must make the journey into our own heart and into God - to be still and quiet there and to be in touch with our own need for compassion. You might ask yourself, “what is my need now? In what way do I need to experience compassion? Is my heart closed or hardened in any way to God or others”? Just be aware and sensitive to your own need, without passing judgement on yourself.
God seeks to enter into our need, the compassion of God wishes to visit us like the dawn from on high (Lk 1,78). He enters in to take our part, to walk where you walk, to feel what you feel, to be in need as you are in need, to be vulnerable as you are vulnerable.
He listens to the beat of my heart and, like John resting on the breast of Jesus, I listen to the heart of God, the compassion of God. This is very intimate and very strong - the heart of stone becomes the heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36), the wounded heart becomes the healing heart, the closed heart becomes open and generous, flowing freely for the other and freely receiving from the other. This is what we need.
We need each other’s compassion, the compassion of God, to raise us to new life and new freedom. This is the apostolate and mission of Jesus and it is ours.