Thought for the Week
Pity, sympathy, empathy, compassion are the responses of ourselves to those less fortunate.
Of the four, compassion has a unique quality, a quality so different from the rest that it indicates a spiritual as well as an emotional characteristic.
Compassion unlike pity has no condescension. Unlike empathy, it does not require a similar experience on the part of the giver, and while sympathy is a wonderful virtue, it implies less impulsiveness than compassion.
Compassion contains no pity because it does not judge a circumstance of life as better, or worse than the next, and it’s not constricted by “rules” because it recognises the uniqueness of each person.
Compassion is a way of saying hello, with kindness and grace, and because of this, compassion is never a burden to the person it is directed towards.
Therefore, compassion, when it enters, usually banishes loneliness, and if not, it accompanies the lonely in solitude.
Compassion can sit with the dying in silence, or with one giving birth.
Compassion can join in suffering, accepting pain as a part of life. Compassion can jump into action, if action is called for.
Compassion can give to the poor or help heal the sick, without condescension or judgment. If these qualities of compassion seem Divine, it is because they are.
And the only hope of ever calling this quality one’s own is to remember that it is in the image of the Divine that we are created.
And if ever you are fortunate enough to be in the presence of compassion, you will barely notice it, so natural does it seem -- as natural as God’s hidden presence, noticeable only if you look. Reverend Bill McMillan St Columbkille RC Church