The practice of compassion must be consistent - it does not work of its selective.
Jesus said that if we only love those who us in regard we are no different than what it otherwise found within the world. We are do nothing less than stoking up our own egotism and remain trapped in the selfishness we are called to transcend. Instead, we are to be more than this in that we are called by Christ to extend love to all - even those who would stand against us.
According to Thomas Aquinas, what we call “love” simply requires that we seek the good of another person.
Compassion is not always a popular portion of the Christian calling. I reckon may folks will feel somewhat cheated when they arrive in Heaven and discover so many others there as well.
Compassion does not always come naturally. It requires intentional effort and spiritual training. The Athenians watched tragedies by Aeschylus and other playwrights. Such provided exposure to both empathy and compassion.
Suffering was put on stage, and the audience was able to weep for a people whom they normally would consider beneath their position. These powerful dramas gave people a liberating purification of emotions that enabled transformation from horror and disgust into compassion.
Religiously justified divisions of others economic/political/social based personal preferences has generated inquisitions, witch burnings and pogroms causing unimaginable suffering around the world.
The world would be far different if, rather than teaching some point of difference by which to alienate entire groups, the simplest of all principles was just a forcefully taught - “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”, Matthew 7:12. This more commonly referred to by is secular name, the Golden Rule.
We live in one world, and we have to learn to reach out with compassion to all other people. Even when they hold differing ideas and beliefs. Especially when such differences exist. This, not of our doing, but the very command of Christ our Savior we lift during this holy season of Eastertide.
-With grateful appreciation for assistance in shaping content to The Very Reverend John D. Payne.
- Rev. Colby