A fine definition of compassion in the words of one author is: “it is not sentiment but it is making justice and doing works of mercy. Compassion is not a moral commandment but a flow and overflow of the fullest human and divine energies” (M F). It is a calculated appeal to emotion that goes beyond our senses, the fruit of charity that moves a person by divine inspiration to be in the “other’s shoes” and with ultimate joy share one’s hand for a needy brother and sister.
Fr Hannibal in the youthfulness of his spirit shared in the one life of the Lord of Rogate through the souls whom he compassionately served; those who experienced much of this so-called distress in life; creating every possible way to end men’s woes and torments in his time living in the light of faith. Likewise with Mother Nazarena, a munificent soul, who never said no to opportunities to share her sacrifices and learn the unfeigned value of compassion.
Compassion. We have heard of this word, encounter it and are encouraged to live and to know it straight from the heart of Christ – not just because, as in my case, I am a daughter of St Hannibal, a Daughter of Divine Zeal, but because first and foremost I am a Christian.
God allows me to single out compassion from pity… I will never forget the day during one of my hospital duties, attending to one patient who had undergone major surgery: a laparotomy secondary to a ruptured appendix that resulted in peritonitis. Instead of having the appendectomy only, because the patient had neglected the symptoms – thinking that it was just a simple pain that would go away – her appendix had burst and spread toxins throughout her abdominal cavity. While dressing the surgical incision, she looked at me and asked how big the incision was. I knew that she was anxious because she wanted to go home as she had no money to pay for the hospital bills and for her medicines. She kept on asking for prayers. She was not alone in that room, many of them were helpless and recognized their suffering as a sharing of Jesus’ pain. There were many images of pain and suffering from different illnesses of the young and old with which I grappled during my hospital duties. This particular woman however touched me most and really moved my heart. I asked myself, why? I reflected and understood that it was because she was a woman, a wife and a mother, who struggled to make herself sturdy amidst storms in life, and during this time in the hospital she was so helpless and her heart was restless.
Matthew 9:36 says “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd”. This is just a fragment of life’s realities. People from all walks of life have their own story to share. The little help of our community – MND towards those needy children and my little experience in the hospital as a student-nurse – opened up a new road to cross the threshold of compassion. We just have to open our eyes and be sensitive to each others’ needs, whether this be material or spiritual need. We are responsible for each other and God would surely ask how we take care of our brethren. I have to learn in the school of Christ’s compassion where our Spiritual Father and Mother learned to practise their selfless offering of their lives. The “abandoned crowd, harassed and helpless…”, the poor people in the Avignone quarters, the children at MND, and the woman in the hospital – all of these are the same “sheep” who need their shepherd, who need compassionate workers, who need a Daughter of Divine Zeal.
Sr M Glenda Galanido fdz
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