Anglican Lutheran Lenten Reflections

Anglican Lutheran Lenten Reflections

Compassion (Matthew 9:35–38)

Daily Lenten Reflection - Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Week 3: Salvation—Not for Sale

Week 3, Day 4

“The Collects,” German Mass, Martin Luther

Almighty God, who art the protector of all who trust in thee, without whose grace no one is able to do anything, or to stand before thee: Grant us richly thy mercy, that by thy holy inspiration we may think what is right and by thy power perform the same; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Compassion (Matthew 9:35–38)

Marjaana Toiviainen, Lutheran, Finland

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” 

Compassion: noun, sympathetic consciousness of and a feeling of deep empathy for others’ misfortune and distress together with a desire to alleviate the suffering.

A prayer

Jesus, through your existence, body, actions, blood and words you lead me onto the path of compassion. You do it in two, very distinct ways.

First you patiently lead me with your advice, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Lk 6:31). What a merciful guideline—a considerate minimum. You know our limitations and human constraints: quite often, we can only grasp the needs of others through a lens of our own. So you come and live in this incompleteness and shape it into a tool for compassion: Do to others as you would have them do to you.

But that is not what you do. Through your own actions you teach a second way—much more profound and much harder. Jesus, you never rushed into doing things you wished people had done to you. Your compassion turned things upside down. You healed every disease and sickness—starting with the question, What do you wish I do to you?”

Jesus, remind me often of those two ways to true compassion. First, help me figure out what on earth “I would have them do to me” means. Demand self-reflection. In your merciful presence I can recognize my true needs: those that lead towards the kingdom of God and soundness. Not those that lead towards addictions, hurtful detachment and solitude. I mix those up way too often.

Second, please take me further (with baby steps). Compassionate healer, guide me to ask others, What do you wish that I do to you? Remind me to ask, even though I think I know better.

Charity is quite common, but solidarity rare. Oh, how the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Lead me towards compassionate courage: let me see and be seen in all the messiness and craziness, vulnerability and limitations. Make our communities haphazard, undefined, obscurely equal and confusingly healing. Let compassion lead us into mutual transformation through our shared story. When it comes to suffering, we all are part of the problem and part of the solution. Sinners and saints.

In the midst of that mess, harassment and helplessness, travel through our towns and villages and pour your compassion over us.

“On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Anglican-Lutheran International Coordinating Committee has compiled a collection of Lenten reflections to commemorate the anniversary. The text can be used by small groups or individual, as a Lenten reading or as a resource for the weeks between Easter and Trinity Sunday. We are sharing these reflections daily during Lent, hoping that our common experience of God’s grace may draw our two families of churches closer together in this extraordinary year, and be used beyond 2017 and actually at any time.”