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From Bitterness to True Compassion

From Bitterness to True Compassion

For a period of time, I felt very unhappy with my job. Though I only complained to myself, I began to feel bitter towards others—and this bitterness continued to grow within me for months, until I noticed that it had become a blockage in my prayers. Thinking that perhaps I was not compassionate enough, I began to ask God to teach me true compassion.

At first, I thought maybe compassion was a feeling of sympathy. One summer day, I waited at a subway station and when the train pulled into the station, everyone tried to squeeze into one train car. Wondering why no one went into the empty train car next to it, I entered that empty train car and smelled a very foul odor. I quickly realized that everyone went to the other train car to get away from this smelly homeless man. I thought to myself, “This cannot be compassion, because even though everyone felt bad for him, no one did anything other than try to get away—myself included.”

After praying for some time again, I thought maybe compassion was an act of mercy. That year, the Pope visited New York City and I watched a few homosexual Catholics being interviewed on television. They praised the Pope for declaring it a year of mercy because they felt accepted as homosexuals. As I watched this, I thought to myself, “This cannot be compassion either, because sin still needs to be dealt with.”

As I continued to pray, a scene played in my head of the breakfast by the sea (Jn 21:1-14). Jesus asked, "Children, have you any food?" and also said, "Come and eat breakfast." Jesus did not rebuke the disciples for going back to fishing after His death. He knew that they were just hungry, and He knew how it felt to be hungry. So, He provided for their needs. Then I knew that this was true compassion.

So I prayed to God, asking Him to teach me this kind of compassion. Indeed after a while, I felt the bitterness slowly dissolve within me and realized that: we have to see the needs of others in order to manifest the pure love of Jesus. True compassion is one that can compel others towards His righteousness.

Reflection Questions

1.     What are some ways Christ has shown us compassion in our lives despite our faults?

2.     How can we show compassion towards others? Towards our brothers and sisters?


Author: Crystal Wang