A particular section of the Book of Isaiah, from chapter 40 to 55, consists of the great messianic oracles known as the Servant of the Lord. The mysterious destiny of suffering and glorification of the servant depicted in the oracles is fulfilled in the passion and glorification of Christ. Among the four oracles, I like the first one most.
“Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
Upon whom I shall put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
Not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
A bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
Until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.” ( Isaiah 42: 1 – 4 )
This servant of the Lord was a man of compassion. He did not break a bruised reed, nor did he quench a smoldering wick.
His compassion, seven centuries after Isaiah, was demonstrated by Jesus, who was the Servant of the Lord, the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.
Once, Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law who had fever. After she was healed, she got up at once and began to serve them. The same evening, He showed his compassion. “After sunset all who had friends who were sick with various diseases brought them to Jesus; he placed his hands on every one of them and healed them all.” ( Luke 4: 40 )
He had the divine ability to heal all of them instantly. He could have said, “You’re all healed. You may go home now.” But that was not His way. He was concerned with each individual. He placed His hands on every one of them because He cared. By placing His hands on every sick person, He took a longer period of time to heal all of them, but He did not mind.
In this instance, the support of many healthy people was needed. They brought their sick friends who suffered from various diseases to Jesus. They wanted their sick friends to be healed. Their effort was rewarded. Their sick friends were healed.
No wonder then the crowd cried out with joy, “You are the Son of God!” Being a man of compassion, Jesus feels with us in our anguish, our pain, our anxieties, and our difficulties.
On another occasion, Jesus demonstrated His unlimited compassion by touching a coffin.
‘Soon afterwards Jesus went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a large crowd. Just as he arrived at the gate of the town, a funeral procession was coming out. The dead man was the only son of a woman who was a widow, and a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart was filled with pity for her, and he said to her, “Don’t cry.” Then he walked over and touched the coffin, and the men carrying it stopped. Jesus said, “Young man! Get up, I tell you!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.’ ( Luke 7: 11- 15 )
With His divine ability, He could have healed the widow’s son without touching the coffin. However, out of His compassion for the widow and her son, He touched the coffin. He could have said, “Young man, Get up, I tell you!” He did not, however, make him get up by using His words only. He violated the Jewish law by making Himself unclean when He touched the coffin.
By touching the coffin, He was foreshadowing how one day He would deliver us who are unclean before God from the curse of our sins. By touching the coffin, the Divine Physician was identifying Himself with the widow’s son, so that we will be given a new life.
To learn from Our Lord who did not use only words to heal the sick people, we should not try to convert a Protestant or an atheist by arguments, nor should we try to bring lapsed Catholics back to the Church by mere words or handing them a copy of ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’. Our genuine compassion will bring others back to Christ. My sister likes to say, “As a little rain can straighten a flower stem, a little love can change a life.” This ‘little love’, indeed, can change many people and give them hope.
Looking at the modern saints that we know, especially at Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II, who were role models of mercy and compassion in the last century, we can tell much has already been accomplished. Nevertheless, looking at the world around us today, we realize much still needs to be done. The world today is still in desperate need of God’s compassion and, on the other hand, God is desperate to give His compassion to the world through us.
Now is the perfect time for us to use our words and our daily life to tell the world the supernaturally good news: God cares! God still cares just like two thousand years ago He placed His hands on every sick person with various diseases that was brought to Him. God still cares just like how He became unclean by touching the coffin to bring the widow’s son back to life.
With our compassion that every Christian should have, let us hope that at least some people in this world of ours will one day be able to say, “God has indeed visited his people!” Let us pray that He will visit His people through you and through me.