The Irresistible Power of Loving Compassion

11-26-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

"Dear God!" I said this past week a few different times. I just realized that this Sunday is the last Sunday of the Church year and that next weekend we begin the Season of Advent with Christmas just 4 weeks later. Did we not just have Easter a few weeks ago? I clearly remember July 4th as just 2 to 3 weeks ago. Time moves, and moves, and then moves some more. I know when I was in early elementary school time took a long while to pass, but as I move through the years as an adult, times passes way too quickly. I hope that the passage of time and my life experiences have helped me to become more philosophic and a better person.

Yes, I also know that time moves ever faster and does not give me that much time to breathe and reflect on how to be a better person. The touchstone of the Feast of Christ the King this weekend tells me it is now very important to end this church year and also faith year with some reflection so that next year 's life will be better and deeper in meaning and purpose. The scripture readings this weekend speak strongly to who we are, what we yearn for, and how we can be. This weekend's scripture readings point us to the faith statement of the awesome power of God in our lives and how we should make it manifest in ours each day. In today's daily life, which often feels almost out of control because of the violence, the anger, and the conflict in our world and in American society, the power that ultimately matters in our lives is the power of Jesus Christ to transform us and give us grace, peace, strength and hope for each day and for our lives.

Ezekiel also marvelously tells us we are often our own worst enemy, but it is the grace of God that helps us to repent and change. God is like the shepherd who cares for us, binds our wounds, and also leads us with love. God cannot be missed. The power of God bends down to the little, lost, battered one. This is a far cry from what one gets from a king, a dictator or an appointed or elected high government official.

Do you recall that as Jesus began his ministry of healing and teaching, he gave us the beatitudes? Can you also see how at the near end of his public ministry, he points out that the members of the kingdom are those who help the lowly and needy ones. This defines what Christian behavior is in how we follow the Way of Jesus Christ. When we act like God, we bend down, as he has done for us and shown us. Our strength is in our compassion. We see this clearly in the life and ministry of Jesus. We hear it in his words, his parables. Today the story is set squarely on our shoulders and placed into our hands. Our work on earth is to bend humbly toward those regarded by others as "the least." There is more, and this is actually shocking to most people, then and now, that these so-called least are worth the attention we would afford to Jesus himself. Bear in mind that Jesus himself identifies with them.

Our Gospel itself presents a grand and noble vision of all the people on earth standing before the throne of the Son of God. And this Son of God delivers a surprising message. We know in our hearts that everyone in the world could understand the irresistible kind of power generated by loving compassion. Deep felt compassion draws us near to its light and warmth. This compassion moves like fire throughout the earth. Are you part of lighting the earth with this fire and light of Christ?