Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
COMPASSION MOVED JESUS TO PERFORM WORKS OF HEALING. Could it also be said that compassion enabled him to heal?
Webster's dictionary defines compassion as a "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." All the wonderful healing work Jesus did shows that he had an earnest desire to alleviate the suffering of others, but did he have a "sympathetic consciousness"? None of the Bible passages about Jesus' healings shows Jesus expressing mere pity for a person.
When Jesus healed a man who had been blind from his birth, Jesus' disciples asked whether this man's sins or his parents' sins had caused the blindness. Jesus answered compassionately, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" (John 9:3). Jesus didn't give the appearance of a dejected attitude or convey pity. Instead, he dismissed the cause of the problem entirely and approached it as an opportunity to show the undeniable and constant connection between God and His children. To truly heal like Jesus did, I believe we need to put mere sympathy aside and instead be "moved with compassion."
And what exactly is this compassion that moved Jesus in his speech and actions? To find a profound definition from the Greek origins of the word compassion, I searched many Bible commentaries and Bible translations for some spiritual insight and inspiration. But none of this research enlightened my understanding of true compassion. I closed all these reference books and decided to leave this question of compassion alone for a while. Then, a few days later, I came across this powerful reminder from Science and Health: "The Scriptures are very sacred. Our aim must be to have them understood spiritually, for only by this understanding can truth be gained" (p. 547).
Although praying to spiritually understand myself as an idea of God has led to healing many conditions and situations in my life, I realized I had never prayed to spiritually understand different concepts in the Bible. However, Mrs. Eddy's use of the word must guided me away from studying the word compassion academically, and turned me instead toward a sincere desire to understand this word spiritually.
A phrase in Science and Health provided the perfect answer for me. "Fixing your gaze on the realities supernal," Mrs. Eddy clearly and practically explained, "you will rise to the spiritual consciousness of being ..." (p. 261). I needed to start by fixing my thought on God. I reminded myself that God is the source of all understanding and that I am created in the image of Him (see Gen 1:27). Therefore, I express divine intelligence and can know what I need to know. I could not be confused or misunderstand, and the true understanding of compassion could not be out of my reach. I soon found myself filled with the confidence that God would guide me.
Then I came across this passage in the Bible: "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom. 12:21). This verse compares two opposites, and explains that the way to remove one is to implement the other. If we recognize and focus on evil or suffering of any kind, we can do little to free ourselves or others from evil's grip. Instead, our freedom and our neighbor's freedom can be gained by realizing the absolute good of God's entire creation, and by refuting any other supposed power or reality. Doing this truly moves us with compassion and enables us to help our neighbors overcome any difficulty.
Not long after reading and considering this passage, I received a call from a local junior high school. They needed a substitute teacher for a class of students who had special educational and emotional needs. Over the weekend a girl in this class had been shot and killed, and the school administration was unsure how these students would handle the situation.
Agreeing to be the substitute teacher, I realized I needed to be "moved with compassion toward them." I prayed to grasp the absolute good, as the passage in Romans instructs us to do. I reasoned that the one and only God made all of His children in His own image and likeness. This meant that His children are and must be only good. No presence or power can exist in His/Her creation except the presence and power of good. As this fact became clear to me, I felt confident in God's care for this school, for the students, and for the girl's family. I realized, too, that the divine order, or laws of good, precluded the possibility of trouble in the aftermath of this tragedy. All that could exist and all that does exist are God's children constantly under the control of the constantly harmonious laws of divine Love.
At school the next morning, the assistant principal met with me to explain that this was normally a very difficult class, that it was hard to predict just how students might react. The assistant principal gave me her direct phone line so I could find her quickly if needed. On the way to the classroom, I denied the possibility of any out-of-control students. I affirmed that God is the source of all action, and therefore all action must be as good as God. All I would see were God's children acting and responding harmoniously.
The students were wonderful, stable, and hardworking the entire day. Not knowing the name of the student who was shot, I mistakenly called out her name when taking attendance. Instead of this incident causing an emotional upheaval, the students handled it politely and quietly—refreshing behavior for a group of students society often assumes to be incapable of compassion, patience, and kindness. Some students seemed preoccupied and unable to focus on assignments during class, but with gentle reminders and encouragement from me, these students completed their work. Refusing to be overcome by the difficulties presented, and striving to see only the good God made, I saw the students in the light of true compassion. This made a day that had been predicted to be full of emotional situations, full of harmony instead.
I will always be grateful to have witnessed the power of the Christ that moved me with compassion toward the young people—toward the right understanding of them. In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy clearly described the Christ (which moves us all with compassion) when she said: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick" (pp. 476-477). God's true compassion is expressed in a consciousness filled with thoughts of the perfect children of God, as God created them. With this consciousness, we can always be "moved with compassion," and bring healing to any situation.
Our freedom and our neighbor's freedom can be gained by realizing the absolute good of God's entire creation, and by refuting any other supposed power or reality.
Ian and his wife, Samantha, live in Milton, Washington. Previously a special education teacher, he sometimes substitute teaches in the local school system. However these days, lan is devoting more and more time to the healing practice of Christian Science.
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