‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25)
Last week’s Gospel is a lesson in true compassion. Compassion means “to suffer with” — it’s not just a feeling, it’s also an act of courage and humility. Feeling bad for someone is pity, not compassion. I want to thank everyone who took time out of your busy schedules and went out of your comfort zones to come visit me in the hospital. You are all brave souls and I have a special place in my heart for all of you who took Jesus’ words seriously and acted on them.
It’s no wonder that John, Mary, and a few others were the only friends of Jesus that stuck with him throughout his Passion. No one wants to be wrenched out of their comfort zone, watching helplessly as someone they love is slowly and cruelly tortured. I’m sure his other disciples, like Peter for example, were extremely concerned and were praying for him fervently. There’s nothing wrong with that, but then again, they denied themselves the grace and privilege of being present at quite literally the single greatest moment in history, when Jesus said, “It is finished” and eternal salvation was won for all of mankind. Every single Catholic Mass is a re-presentation of that moment. All grace flows from that moment. And yet, only a handful of his disciples had the faith and courage to be there. As only the great Fulton Sheen could put it,
“We must kneel there at the foot of that Pulpit of Love and confess that when we stabbed His Heart it was our own we slew. But, oh, it is such a difficult thing to climb up the hill of Calvary. It is such a humiliating thing to be seen at the foot of the Cross. It is such a painful thing to be with one in pain and to be seen with one condemned by the world. It is such a hard thing to kneel at the foot of the Cross and admit that one is wrong. It is hard — but it is harder to hang there!” —Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Divine Romance