REFLECTION: Compassion – One of Jesus’s most important virtues

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

What was happening in the time of Jeremiah when the leaders of the people — those who were to shepherd them, rule them, guide them — were failing so dramatically in their task? Jeremiah was preaching to them, trying to bring them back to follow the way of God. But as we heard in our first lesson today, they refused to listen. Jeremiah cries out, “Woe to you shepherds who mislead, even scatter the sheep of my pasture.”

compassion-wordHe’d been preaching to them for so long that now their failures were going to come to a terrible conclusion. They were going to go to war against the Babylonians, and they would be totally defeated. Jerusalem would be destroyed; the temple would be destroyed and the people carried off into exile for a long time. Isn’t it marvelous how Jeremiah sees this gleam of hope because he tells them (and tells us), “The day is coming when I will raise up a shepherd-ruler who is David’s righteous successor. He will rule wisely, govern with justice and righteousness. That will be a peaceful era, when all of Judah will enjoy peace and Israel will live in safety.”

Then when we turn to our Gospel lesson, we discover who this shepherd-ruler is. Of course, it’s Jesus, that descendent of David who is Son of God and Son of Mary. In the Gospel, we learn something today about Jesus that is probably the most important thing that we really need to know about Jesus and the most important way in which we must try to follow him. We recall the circumstances of the Gospel: The disciples were tired, Jesus was tired...

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