The Compassionate God

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Trinity (detail) - by BECCAFUMI, Domenico - from Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena . . . . . . Note the interaction of the hands.
Jesus' Hands are flattened on the Cross, while God's appear almost directly behind them, as if they were once and will again
be the same hands. The role of the Father is Twofold. On the one hand, He is taking His Son back, thus accepting Jesus'
Sacrifice for Mankind. Yet, the very same gesture serves to present and recommend this Redemptive Offering.

 

Jesus Suffered Greatly because of His Decision to be Identified-with and to be a Special Advocate-for God's People. That Suffering culminated in a Terrible Agony and the Ignominious Death of His final Passion. Because God is Love, and Divine Love is Compassionate, the World and the whole Human Family are Saved on the Cross of Christ.

 

The Compassionate God


Francis DeSales

by the Most Reverend Lewis Fiorelli, O.S.F.S., S.T.D.

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Etymology, or the study of the linguistic history of words, is often helpful in discovering what the words we employ frequently really mean. We all know that the Etymology of the word, "Compassion" comes from Two (2) Latin words which mean "to suffer with". To be Compassionate, then, means to be Willing to Suffer along with someone else, to be Willing to Freely join them in their Painful Experience so as to share that Pain with them and thereby to lessen it for them.

Scripture frequently reminds us that ours is a Compassionate God. Psalm 78 tells us that God is "Full of Compassion" (Psalm 78:38); and the Book of Sirach proclaims that the Lord is "Compassionate and Merciful" (Sirach 2:11). As Psalm 145 puts it, God's Compassion extends "Toward all His Works" (Psalm 145:9). In fact, the many References in the Old Testament to a Kind, Merciful and Compassionate God are far too numerous to list.

What is new about Compassion in the New Testament is its conviction that it is in the Person, Life and Ministry of Jesus that God's Compassionate Love for the Human Family has been Fully Revealed to us in Human Form and given to us for our imitation: "Be as Compassionate as [the] Father is Compassionate" (Luke 6:36).

In looking at Jesus as the Compassion of God in Human Form, let us remember that if Compassion means "to suffer with", it implies, before that, "to be with". That is why Jesus is First called Emmanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). Thus, the Incarnation means, before all else, that God's Compassionate Love for us is First manifested to us precisely in the ordinary Human Life which Jesus lived among us. Thus, it is disclosed in those Thirty (30) Hidden Years of Family Life in Nazareth during which Jesus lived fully immersed in the Daily give-and-take of Relational Life, in the Hard Physical Labor of a Carpenter, and in living among the Poor and Little Ones of Israel, as one of them.

"To be with" also implies "to be in solidarity with". In Jesus, God is no Aloof and Distant Deity. He is, rather, fully-engaged in the Life and Struggles of His People. After all, He is the same God Who revealed His name to Moses not simply as "I AM", but more-fully as "I am concerned about you" (Exodus 3:14, 16) and Acted on that Concern by Liberating His People from the Slavery of Harsh Political Oppression. Forever after, the God of Israel would be recognized as a God Who is in Solidarity with His People and Whose Compassionate Love for them reaches not only to the Spiritual, by which He Saves them from their Sin, but also into the very Fabric of their Everyday Life, bringing Dignity, Justice, and Freedom into its every nook-and-cranny, including the Political, Cultural, and Economic.

Since God's Compassionate Love reaches into the very fabric of Human Life, it is not surprising that Jesus not only Redeemed His People from Sin by His Death for them on the Cross, but also addressed their Human needs. Jesus fed the Hungry, Healed the Sick, Befriended the Alienated, and spoke out in defense of the Poor and the Disenfranchised. As Emmanuel, He was both God among His People and also God in Solidarity with His People. In Him, the Poor found a Friend, and the Marginalized an Advocate.

We must go further. As the Human Life of Jesus makes clear to us from Scripture, "to be with" not only means "to be in solidarity with", it also means "to Suffer with". And Jesus Suffered greatly because of His Decision to be identified with and to be a Special Advocate for God's People. That Suffering culminated in a Terrible Agony and the Ignominious Death of His final Passion. god_is_luv_ani.gif (9754 bytes)

But the Fullest meaning of Divine Compassion goes beyond Suffering with and becomes a Redemptive Suffering for others. For this reason, the One Who is Emmanuel, is also Savior. Thus, because God is Love, and Divine Love is Compassionate, the World and the whole Human Family are Saved on the Cross of Christ.