Tag Archives: compassion

On Chaos and Compassion

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By Claire McGrath

“There’s a BUG in here! A BIG BUG!!!” It’s been a pretty hectic day, and those are not the words I want to hear right now, being that I don’t exactly consider myself a fan of “big bugs.” Tonight was our community night at L’Arche Harbor House—an evening when anyone with any connection to or interest in Harbor House is invited to join the community in celebrating all that is L’Arche. After participating in a program at our community center, which involves plenty of singing, dancing, prayer, and reflection, all are invited to one of the homes for dinner. Our house had hosted about 20 people. It’s a joy to be able to share the gift of L’Arche—but it’s also a lot of preparation, and by the end of the day, I’m pretty tired. Our guests have returned home, and the core members are getting ready for bed; the day is finally winding down, or so I thought, until I hear one of the core members shouting about the alleged “big bug” from the bathroom. “What is this bug DOING in here?!” I move closer to the door, trying to pretending that I am not at all phased by the idea of a large bug in the bathroom. Then the door to the bathroom cracks open, and a hand thrusts out as a voice exclaims, “HERE. A big bug!!!” In his hand, he holds a palm-sized stuffed ladybug that belongs to one of the other core members, and I dissolve into relieved laughter as I take the stuffed animal. That’s enough excitement for one day.

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Do, do you have it? Guts! (or, Esplangchnisthe)

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By Ellen Romer

If you haven’t picked up James Martin’s Jesus: A Pilgrimage yet, you really ought to. Without going into a full review for a book I haven’t even finished yet, reading this pilgrimage of Martin’s leads me into prayer and contemplation each time I pick it up. The chapter on parables helps me to pray and ponder more deeply about what Jesus tried to tell us about the Kingdom of God – exactly what a parable ought to do.

When I got to the parable of the prodigal son, Martin brings up the Greek word used when the father sees his son returning-esplangchnisthe. I remember hearing about this word for the first time in my course on the synoptic Gospels over two years ago. This word indicates being moved so deeply that one would feel it deep in their guts, in their deepest insides. Different images of how God loves us – the good Samaritan, the father of the prodigal son – use this to show how God feels love, mercy and compassion as deeply as one possibly can. Jesus also feels this deep love and compassion when he sees the hungry multitude. Mercy isn’t shown merely to teach a lesson but because Jesus deeply loves and cares about His people. I can’t help but wonder at how amazing and awesome it is that God loves in such a way.

Then I found myself with another thought – Why don’t I feel this way? So many children flood our southern border. Fighting in Gaza seems to have no reasonable solution. Christians face exile or death in Mosul. Why do I not feel deep compassion in my guts over these things? Why am I so unmoved? Why are so many people so incredibly unmoved, untouched, unaware, uncaring of atrocities that happen near and far? Why do I feel more outrage over a sports game than I do over starving children and people dying from absurd violence? Why don’t I have the guts to do anything more than wonder and worry?

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