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Compassion

“We see the ultimate magnitude and power of that compassion in the Cross of Christ. But as our baptism into the dying and rising of Christ symbolizes, our rescue from sin and corruption is not accomplished when we merely stand at the foot of the Cross and watch. It is achieved when we participate in the Lord’s sufferings.” (Fr. Basil)


“…the bright-sadness — of which the fathers and the mothers speak. Even in the dryness of our desert journey, we are offered a sustaining taste of the sweet, the living waters. Even amid the gloom, we apprehend a glimmer of the light…as we consider the wretched state we find ourselves in, and yet leavened with joy, the bright promise of God’s presence and forgiveness. Bright sadness is connected with tender-heartedness, that is, compassion, a compassionate heart, from out of which a loving gaze embraces the suffering of others.” (Father Alexander Schmemann)


“The elder Paisios once said that for love to blossom in the heart, we must pray with pain of heart. In explaining this he noted that when we hurt some part of our body — our hand, for example — all our attention and energy focuses on where we hurt. So too it is a hurting and broken heart that focuses our spiritual attention. When asked what can we do if, in fact, we are not suffering and our heart is not hurting, the elder replied: “We should make the other’s pain our own! We must love the other, must hurt for him, so that we can pray for him. We must come out little by little from our own self and begin to love, to hurt for other people as well, for our family first then for the large family of Adam, of God.” (Father Andrew Morbey)


“Christ in His infinite mercy and compassion is present, sharing all the pain and suffering of those who are victims of natural disasters, of abuse perpetrated by those who should know better, and of their own legacy that often means ongoing depression and misery. He is present, but not merely to accompany us. Because that presence is one of suffering love, it serves also to heal, to bless, and to save us. If we allow disasters in the world or in the Church to plunge us into a reluctant agnosticism, we have simply missed the point. That point is that God is truly Lord and that the Church into which we are called by His boundless, unqualified love is truly the Body of the Risen Christ.” (Fr. John Breck)


“God’s relation to suffering has practical consequences for Christian life. It means that Christians are called to be people of memory and action. First, believers in Christ keep the memory of human suffering – the memory of the ongoing passion of humanity. Christians are summoned to live in solidarity with suffering people and to enable suppressed stories of suffering to be told, whether they be the stories of individuals in pain or stories of peoples who are victims of systematic oppression. Christians also keep the memory of another story– the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. It is this story, remembered and lived out, that speaks to us about the God of the kingdom who overcame the death of Jesus in the resurrection and who is on the move to overcome all evil and suffering. The story of Jesus assures us that entering into communion with suffering people and acting to bring life out of death is what God is doing for all people. Being attentive and hearing the stories of the afflicted and oppressed people and responding to their needs with compassion, care, and love and actively working against the causes of suffering  provide opportunities to participate in God’s mercy and become true icons of His presence in the world.” (Fr. Emmanuel Clapsis)


“Empathy and compassion are necessary preconditions for human community…Compassion means suffering with.” (Vigen Guroian, Orthodox Study Bible, Matthew 9:36)


“ ‘When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’ (Matthew 9:35-38). Compassion is defined as "a sad concern." The Gospel writers record Jesus expressing compassion nine times. St. Matthew records Jesus saying, "I am gentle and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29)… Kindness, gentleness and love do not begin and end in Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. His life is meant as a guide for us. We are to imitate Him who said, "I am gentle and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29). St. Paul exhorts the Colossians, "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive" (Colossians 3: 12-13). Why would St. Paul give such an instruction unless Jesus Himself was compassionate and kind?” (Fr. George Morelli)


“The Gospel of Matthew reveals how the Lord Jesus connects the ministry of the Twelve to His compassionate personality as the Good Shepherd and to His mission – the harvest of souls across the world. The Lord intends for the apostles to embody His compassion as they labor in His ministry, and He asks that we, who follow in the footsteps of the apostles, likewise show compassion. We are to care for His flock and labor in His harvest among the peoples of the whole earth…Such godly compassion remains the primary path that every member of the Church should follow” (Dynamis 6/22/2020)


“I had someone once say to me regarding the ministry work I do and all of the suffering I encounter, ‘why do you want to be around all of that suffering? Doesn’t it drag you down?’ I replied no it doesn’t. Upon further contemplation, I realized it does just the opposite – it drags me up. Dealing with other people’s suffering with real heartfelt empathy and compassion is be as Christ wants us to be to each other. He tells us the harvest is plentiful, and He wants willing laborers (Matthew 9:37). Any time we are truly willing to do what Christ would have us do (even though we will do it imperfectly) and accept the privilege of shared suffering, it will always lift up our spirit and cause us to grow through allowing ourselves to be used to help others.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)


“Paradoxically, it is oftentimes in the experience of pain and suffering that we are most prepared to bear an abundant harvest of spiritual fruit. Good times tend to make us complacent and self-satisfied. Sorrow, tribulation, ill health, and disappointment, however, have a way of stimulating us to re-order our priorities and help us to gain perspective and maturity. I have found that it is through my own personal suffering that I have gained my greatest compassion and understanding for others.” (Rev. Andrew J. Demotses)


“Christ's empathy with sinners rests on His being tempted in every way we are…In the case of men it is impossible that one should know the ill-treatment of the ill-treated who has not had experience, and gone through the actual sensations. Our High Priest endured all things. Therefore He endured first and then ascended, that He might be able to sympathize with us.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Hebrews 4:15, St. John Chrysostom)

“Christ is a most meek, tender, compassionate, forgiving friend. If He did not excel in these things to an infinite degree, He could not be our friend. We have injured Him more than any other person in the universe; and have done more to affront Him, and provoke Him to anger, than ever was done to any other.” (Samuel Hopkins)

“God’s heart is one of grace and compassion…His will is not to punish and harm…His will is to pardon and heal…God’s compassion is the context and foundation for relationships among His people and among all men.” (Tony Cauchi, Dynamis 7/13/2019)

“Compassion differs from empathy. The critical element in compassion that differentiates it from empathy is its behavioral component. Empathy is thinking and feeling what others are thinking and feeling. Compassion combines the deep awareness of the sufferings of others with a desire that leads, eventually, to an action to relieve the suffering…Only the God of Love understands the full depth of human anguish and ecstasy. Christ was able to identify with us in our confusion and longing; He was able to enter into our suffering with the utmost empathy and compassion, precisely because His heart was filled with incomprehensible Light.” (Father George Morelli, Jonathan Jackson)

“All so called punishment and penance in Christianity is meant to be therapeutic with the hopes of rehabilitation for the sinner. Not understanding this and Christ’s example is what can lead to our extreme attitudes of punitive condemnation for our own sense of satisfaction…We need to put on Christ and avoid this harsh condemning and mindless condoning in our thoughts and action. Neither is loving. Neither is healing. If we condemn someone where is the love of Christ in that? If we condone their wrong behavior or areas where they fall short aren’t we just helping them to perpetuate it and being enablers?” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

"God is more compassionate and understanding toward us than we sometimes are toward ourselves.” (Foundation Study Bible, 1 John 3:20)

“Even though we have put our faith in Christ and committed ourselves to obeying His will, this doesn’t automatically guarantee total and perpetual immunity from trouble. There will be seasons when God seems remote and we begin to wonder about God’s unfailing love. It is in these times that we must hold most firmly to what we know about God, rather than what we feel. God has neither forgotten to show mercy nor stifled His compassion.” (Foundation Study Bible, Psalms 77:7-8)

“No one is as good and compassionate as God, but even He does not forgive the unrepentant…we believe God loves us above all else and He views our sins, areas that we fall short, with compassion; but we must have a repentant heart that is open to receiving God’s compassion.” (St. Mark the Ascetic, Sacramental Living)

“When dealing with people, it is more important to love and understand them than to analyze them or give advice. Compassion produces greater results than criticism or blame…Each time we show compassion, our character is strengthened.” (Life Application Study Bible, Job 26:2-4, 2 Samuel 9:7)

“Compassion is a fruit of righteousness. Thus in man's dominion over every living thing, he is to express this dominion in compassion…the humble soul is filled with compassion, kindliness, and mercy.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Proverbs 12:10, Dynamis 1/29/2015)

"The word compassion comes from two Latin words, cum and passio. Cum is defined as “with” and passio means “to suffer.” Thus, compassion means “to suffer with.” It says in the Bible that when we follow Christ, there will be suffering because we live in a fallen world. As we go forth, tell the truth, and help people in need, we are going to experience a level of suffering . . . and this is where God is found.” (David Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons)

“The consumer world does not suffer well. It has substituted an ethic of false compassion, defined as the relief of pain (not the “sharing of suffering,” its original meaning). Consumerist compassion is stymied when confronted with suffering. That which cannot be relieved must be eliminated. We anesthesize, abort, and euthanize, all in the name of compassion. We do not withstand and endure. Consumption is turned towards the self. Within the self alone, suffering can have no meaning. In the name of compassion, we kill, thinking that death ends suffering. It is an act of despair.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Compassion differs from empathy. The critical element in compassion that differentiates it from empathy is its behavioral component. Empathy is thinking and feeling what others are thinking and feeling. Compassion combines the deep awareness of the sufferings of others with a desire that leads, eventually, to an action to relieve the suffering.” (Father George Morelli)

“Compassion binds us especially to the suffering of others so that we share their suffering vicariously and want to do something to alleviate it.” (Vigen Guroian)

“We must not be so self-consumed as to have no compassion for others….A compassionate heart leads to God as it places others above self.” (Abbot Tryphon)

“Too often we focus on God as Judge and Lawgiver, ignoring his compassion and concern for us. When God examines our lives, He remembers our human condition.” (Life Application Study Bible, Psalms 103:13-14)

“God is more compassionate and understanding toward us than we sometimes are toward ourselves.” (Foundation Study Bible, 1 John 3:20)

“God’s compassion is a compassion that reveals itself in servanthood." (Donald McNeill, Douglas Morrison, and Henri Nouwen)

“Ever let mercy outweigh all else in you. Let our compassion be a mirror where we may see in ourselves that likeness and that true image which belong to the Divine nature and Divine essence. A heart hard and unmerciful will never be pure.” (St. Isaac the Syrian)

"The closer we grow in relationship with Christ, the greater our ability to exhibit the likeness or divine attributes of God, in essence what God wants us to become: good, loving, merciful, compassionate, long-suffering, patient, pure, and having pure love for neighbor.” (Deacon and Fellow Pilgrim)

“Jesus does not condemn sinners, but sees them as lost sheep to be found and brought home. Compassion means “suffering with.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Matthew 9:36)

“…godly compassion remains the primary path that every member of the Church should follow…We are to let our compassion be evident in our actions toward all.” (Dynamis 6/23/2014)

“As Christians, our understanding of justice is not a forceful or violent condemnation of our world and our fellow human beings. Ours is a justice of compassion that seeks to reconcile each and every person to God by means of the transforming love he has revealed to us.” (Archbishop Demetrios of America)

“To be grounded more in mercy and compassion than judgment, while at the same time not losing our ability to judge and discern a situation, it is useful to frame in our minds how we think of and convey our thoughts on right and wrong…right means good for you and wrong means bad for you.” It’s really that simple.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“All of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another, love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (Saint Peter).

“The true saint is not one who has become convinced that he himself is holy, but one who is overwhelmed by the realization that God, and God alone, is holy. He is so awestruck with the reality of the divine holiness that he begins to see it everywhere...The saint is capable, as [Russian novelist] Dostoevski said, of loving others even in their sin. For what he sees in all things and in all men is the object of the divine compassion." (Thomas Merton)

“In the actions and words of Christ it is evident that the peace of God is the gift and blessing of the grace of God and His love for humankind. It is a peace that comes from the assurances of a divine and compassionate presence, a peace that offers a level of security and joy that can come from no other source in heaven or on earth.” (Archbishop Demetrios of America)