Teresa of Ávila: Compassionate Her

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When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He began teaching them many things. Mark 6:34

“When I see people very anxious to know what sort of prayer they practice, covering their faces and afraid to move or think lest they should lose any slight tenderness and devotion they feel, I know how little they understand how to attain union with God since they think it consists in such things as these. No, sisters, no; our Lord expects works from us. If you see a sick sister whom you can relieve, never fear losing your devotion; compassionate her; if she is in pain, feel for it as if it were your own and, when there is need, fast so that she may eat, , not so much for her sake as because you know your Lord asks it of you. This is the true union of our will with the will of God. If some one else is well spoken of, be more pleased than if it were yourself; this is easy enough, for if you were really humble it would vex you to be praised. It is a great good to rejoice at your sister’s virtues being known and to feel as sorry for the fault you see in her as if it were yours, hiding it from the sight of others. ”

Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582) in Interior Castle 3.11 (Grand Rapids: CCEL) 83.

In reading Interior Castle in 2015, this expression, “compassionate her,” struck me so I posted part of this quote. Today’s post is a longer excerpt which adds depth to it.

I had not thought about it for years until last night. I got to my hotel room in Bengaluru after 1:00am and took a hot shower, trying to relieve pain I was experiencing in my low back and hip.

I was also thinking about the word “compassion.” That’s when I thought of this expression from Teresa, “compassionate her.” So I located the quote and found these words follow that expression.

“If she is in pain, feel for it as if it were your own.” So again I gave thanks for the pain I am currently experiencing in my back and hip. Seriously, the pain has helped me minister more effectively in India.

Then I read Mark’s Gospel and was reminded that Jesus felt their pain and responded with teaching. With a week of teaching to go on this trip, it inspires me to “compassionate” each person I meet, to listen, to feel their deep pain, and to teach them with love.

Join me. Compassionate those around you. Feel their deep pain. Only after doing that will you know what they need. Then (and only then) teach them! Show them graciously, how to find healing and hope in God.