“A leper approached Jesus, knelt before him, and begged to be healed. ‘If you are willing,’ the leper said, ‘you can make me well.’ Then, filled with compassion, Jesus extended his hand and touched the leper. ‘I am willing,’ Jesus said. ‘Be healed!’ And immediately the leprosy was gone, and the person was healed.”
Notes for Contemplation as You Use this Devotional:
- This story, usually titled “The Leper’s Prayer,” is such a profound moment in Jesus’s ministry that the Gospel Writers called Matthew (8:1-3) and Luke (5:12-13) also tell it.
- Jesus doesn’t question the person’s dignity and need for healing. Nor does he attempt to determine their status, evaluate their worth, or judge their situation. Instead, he bears witness to their pain. And even though he might get leprosy (thought in ancient times to be highly contagious), Jesus declares his willingness to touch the person. Then, his compassion does the healing.
- Compassion requires our willingness to notice, feel (or empathize with), and respond without judgment to another’s pain.
- Compassion is extending our hands and opening our heart by acting to alleviate another person’s struggle.
- Because we cannot possibly know everyone else’s challenges and difficulties, Jesus’s wisdom about judgments (see Matthew 7:1-2, Luke 6:37, and John 8:7) helps us cultivate compassion.
- In his 2018 book, A Lens of Love: Reading the Bible in Its World for Our World, Dean of Wake Forest University Divinity School, Professor Jonathan Lee Walton teaches: “It’s been said that we should not judge another until we walk a mile in their shoes. One can add that it’s also important to know how a person ended up walking along a particular path in the first place. Social environments and experiences of the past matter.”
- Compassion, therefore, requires that we see beyond the outer circumstance and behold the Presence of God in another, no matter who they are, how they look, where they live, what they’ve done, or who they love.
As you reflect on your life and circumstances, ask yourself:
- When in my life have I needed compassion?
- List, word map, or illustrate what your situation was.
- Then, list, word map or illustrate how you felt about your situation.
- During this time, who judged me and withheld their compassion from me?
- Without considering who the person was or judging the behavior, just list, word map, or illustrate how you felt about what you experienced.
- During this time, who willingly offered me compassion?
- List, word map, or illustrate who they were.
- Next, list, word map, or illustrate what they shared, said, or did that was compassionate.
- Then, list, word map, or illustrate how you felt from receiving their compassion.
- When in my life have I judged someone else and withheld compassion from them?
- List, word map, or illustrate the situation.
- Next, list, word map, or illustrate any judgments you made about the person or situation.
- Then, as you consider your own judgments, list, word map, or illustrate at least one (1) way you could imagine something compassionate about them.
- Who is at least one (1) person in my life who needs my compassion?
- List, word map, or illustrate who they are.
- Next, list, word map or illustrate what you imagine they may be feeling.
- Then, list, word map or illustrate at least one (1) thing you can share, say, or do that provides compassion.
Be gentle with yourself as you work with this devotional. Compassion is something which grows and deepens as we behold all people as God’s beloved, divine creations.
Remember that we need not know someone well or like them to be compassionate. Even if we can’t understand their experience, we can imagine how their experience might feel because of what we have felt ourselves. Then, we can see ourselves walking in their shoes and choose how we’re willing to extend our hands and heart to them.
© 2022 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks – All rights reserved.