26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997
100 years ago this selfless humanitarian who dedicated her life to serving the poor, orphans, sick and dying in Calcutta, India was born in Albania. In 1950 she founded the Missionaries of Charity and in 1979 she won the Nobel Peace Prize. Here is a link to her controversial acceptance speech.
who will cry for the little boy, lost and all alone
who will cry for the little boy, abandoned without his own
who will cry for the little boy, he cried himself to sleep
who will cry for the little boy, who never had it for keeps
who will cry for the little boy, who walked on burning sands
who will cry for the little boy, the boy inside the man
who will cry for the little boy, who knew well hurt and pain
who will cry for the little boy, who died and died again
who will cry for the little boy, a good boy he tried to be
who will cry for the little boy, who cries inside of me
from Antwone Fisher
I was recently commenting to a friend of mine about how mean spirited our society has become. This is clearly reflected in the more popular t.v. shows and personalities… your Gordon Ramseys, Simon Cowells, Real Housewives of “wherever”, The Apprentice, Survivor, The Daily Show, etc. Our motto is now: “the meaner the better!” Those who show any kindness, gentleness or God forbid shed any tears, especially among men, are seen as effeminate, weak, soft and deserve to be victimized. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, this mean spiritedness has even made its way into christendom. Those of us who profess to be followers of Jesus, increasingly show a lack of compassion for others and easily justify this attitude to ourselves, as well as to God. In truth, this is not just a western or christian phenomenon… we can see it worldwide.
Everyday we see in the world around us, near and far, that people are hurting in various ways and as Christians, it is our duty to be compassionate. This story about Jesus and the death of Lazarus, demonstrates a compassionate soul in action: John 11. In this passage Jesus is told that his friend Lazarus, who He loves dearly is very sick. It’s Jesus’ plan to allow him to die and then raise him from the dead to show that He is indeed the Son of God. When He finally gets to Lazarus’s house, Jesus is told that he has been dead for 4 days and He sees the grief of the family, friends and other mourners. However notice Jesus’ attitude towards the people. He didn’t tell them to stop weeping because He had come to save the day. He did not tell them to “suck it up” and pay attention to how great He was because of the miracle He was about to perform. Instead John states: “he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” and adds the shortest but one of the most powerful insights into Jesus’ character in verse 35: “Jesus wept”. Although in the very near future He knew that everyone would be rejoicing, at that moment He felt and expressed their pain and suffering. It’s only after empathizing with their grief and sorrow, that Jesus then acts and raises Lazarus from the dead.
How do we demonstrate our compassion for others, especially those who we consider our enemies? How do we demonstrate our compassion for those who it is easy to pass judgment on, in that we feel that they are getting what they deserve? How do we demonstrate our compassion for those who are not in our social, political, economic or religious cliques? Do we cry for the pain they are experiencing? Or do we rejoice that it’s not us? Or worse of all, are we just indifferent to their plight?
The bottom line is, do you have any compassion for that family member or friend who is struggling with addiction, who has ripped you off time and again and is now sitting in jail? Do you have any compassion for the prostitute, homosexual, drug addict or that promiscuous friend who has contracted AIDS? Do you have any compassion for that person you know who got a mortgage for a house they knew they couldn’t afford and have lost it or are in danger of losing it? Do you have any compassion for the illegal immigrants who are breaking the law to feed their family here and in their home country? Do you have any compassion for the Muslim families in your neighbourhood, who are being shunned or called derogatory names because of the recent attempted terrorist bombings in New York and Detroit? And if you do, what are you doing about it?
Being compassionate is not all about feelings. Being compassionate is about action. Being compassionate is not about you, but the other person. Being compassionate is not based on, nor concerned about being right. Being compassionate is the opposite of being judgmental.
When Jesus talked about the day of judgment, the criteria for those who will inherit eternal life, will not be based on how often you went to church, or how much money you gave, or how much of a good person you were, or how often you prayed, or how strong your faith was or how religious or spiritual you claimed to be. It will be based on what you did or did not do, for the less fortunate, for those who were suffering: Matthew 25: 31-46. Jesus makes it clear that what you do and don’t do for the “least of these”, you also do and don’t do to Him!
In the movie Antwone Fisher, at the end of the scene where Antwone recites the above poem, he is asked who will cry for that little boy? Antwone replies: “I will, I always do”. Instead of being mean spirited, indifferent and judgmental, we should lead the world by example and be a compassionate soul… like Jesus… to those who are hurting!