If you are anything like me you will be wondering how on earth anyone could complain about the healing of a sick person on the Sabbath! What is it that is at work in the heart of a person such that they would belive this? To be fair, I do not think that it is malice towards the sick person, just a very legalistic understanding of the Law and its application to individual circumstances. I would hope that those who question Jesus’ actions would change their minds if they were to imagine that they were the sick person in question! However, there are forms of legalism that are so strong that they can even seem to be totally devoid of compassion.

Now by compassion I do not mean compromise. Compassion literally means to ‘to suffer with,’ that is, to take on the position of the other person and try to see things from their perspective. It is important for us to develop compassion for others as it can help us to understand why people do the things they do, and when the person is suffering, help us to realize the depth of their struggle and thus be inspired to help them.

Jesus was a compassionate person in that he was always ready to listen to those around him and he was able to address their issues and needs from the standpoint of understanding. Help for others that comes from a purely theoretical or philosophical point of view is a ‘cold’ sort of help. It is better than nothing but not as ‘warm’ and comforting as help that comes from a compassionate understanding and being with the person who is suffering. As Christians we ought to seek to be moving from the second position rather than the first.

Jesus calls us to have a special love for the poor and suffering, as they are ofetn the ones forgotten by the world. Even in the midst of prosperity and progress the poor and outcast are forgotten as they are not part of what is happening and so they get passed over. It is important that we make a point to remember them and try to bring them along with us as best we can and help them make the best of their lives.

Have I a heart for the poor and suffering or do I tend to ignore their plight as something beyond my control?

Jesus, help me to have a heart for the poor and suffering of the world and to do all I can to better their lives and help them out of their suffering.