The word compassion appears about nine times in Matthew's gospel and we have it today with Jesus having compassion on the crowds and wanting to feed them (Matthew 15:32).  There is something that is very comforting about Jesus having compassion on the crowds not only in healing people, but in wanting to take care of the physical need of eating.  I think it is comforting because seeing Jesus being compassionate, having that emotion, helps us to think of Jesus responding that way to us.

I think this also seriously challenges us as Christians and the church in our response to others.  Do we respond to people being touched by the emotion of compassion?  What kind of healing would this bring about for another person?  We can't isolate ourselves and just do food, or hand out toys, clothes, or any other ministry without first being called to compassion's shore.  Compassion requires us to see with deeper eyes the true personhood of another.  It calls us to respond no matter what we want to protect.  It requires us to drop our defenses and open ourselves up to another.  Without it our ministries and welcomes seem hollow and incomplete.

The challenge is to open ourselves up to this.  In this world we are told we have so little on hand to give out.  We operate under the assumption that all things are scarce except for our over consumption of things for ourselves.  Compassion requires us to give freely.  Maybe in this way we can open ourselves up to God.