The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
Recent scientific studies have completely changed our perception of the Neanderthal, that archaic human that predates modern humans by tens of thousands of years. Our previous view was of a very crude, brutish, uncaring, and savage forerunner to the modern human. New findings, however, indicate that the attribute of compassion is one of the primary characteristics that helped Neanderthals to survive and develop as our ancestors.
For Christians this should be an affirmation of what we know of God as revealed throughout the Bible, and especially in the life of Jesus Christ. Since the Bible affirms that God created us in God's likeness and image, is it any wonder that compassion runs in our DNA? And, since God is the author of all creation, God's compassion must be a part of everything that exists.
Our theme for the Sundays following Pentecost is Compassionate Caring. With this theme we want to explore how God is at work in us and all creation through compassion for ourselves, for our community, and for the world we inhabit. In our world that suffers from war and violence, we understand that such compassion is the beginning of all paths leading to peace.
Jesus was often moved with compassion for others. The Greek word most often used in this context with Jesus indicates that compassion was such a deep seated feeling, that it had a physical effect upon him. Compassion moved Jesus to restore the sick and demon-possessed to health and wholeness. It is as if Jesus could not be whole in body, mind, or spirit without alleviating the pain of others. Indeed, the Latin root of our English word literally means to "suffer with". Compassion motivated Jesus to take pity on those who were lost like sheep without a shepherd, and he not only led them into paths of righteousness, but taught them to become more compassionate as well. In the Letter to the Colossians the Christian community is encouraged to make compassion a part of their new life in Christ Jesus. As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience (Col 3:12).
How will we individually and collectively embody the compassion of God for ourselves, our community, and God's creation? It is God's survival code for humanity.