Embracing A Life Of Compassion
|Volume 16, No. 1
As we think of the people in our lives whom we love with all our hearts ... a spouse, children, parents, a lifelong friend, just thinking about them can bring joy to your soul and a smile to your lips. You would do anything for them to ensure that they are safe, healthy and happy. To St. Isaac of Syria, our love and compassion should extend to everyone in our lives, from family and friends to complete strangers. "Let our compassion be a mirror where we may see in ourselves that likeness and that true image which belong to the Divine nature and Divine essence. A heart hard and unmerciful will never be pure." The capacity to extend a loving and compassionate hand to a total stranger should come to us naturally; as children of God, we were created in His likeness and become Christ-like when our actions put the welfare of all others before our own. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) A rich man is not one who has much but gives much.
When we see a person in distress or suffering from some affliction, we shouldn't turn away and say the usual "There but for the grace of God go I" but "There go I" as we are all part of the body of Christ. As we dwell within Him and He dwells within us, we are all life-creating. Not one of us is immune to the possibility that circumstances could one day place us in the same shoes of one who is suffering or struggling to survive. We can, however, be mindful of how we treat one another, and live by the example of St. Silouan, a fervent follower of compassionate living: "The Spirit of God teaches us to love all that exists, and the soul feels compassion for each being, and also loves enemies and pities demons, because in their fall they were detached from the good." Compassion makes no exceptions, nor should our love.
Rev. NicholasTriantafilou, President
Hellenic College/ Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology