Memorial of Saint Scholastica, Virgin
When I was missioned to the U.S.-Mexico border working in migrant ministry, I had an encounter with two migrants, namely Mauricio and Cassandra. Cassandra, a migrant waiting for a legal appointment to enter the United States, was a mother of a young little girl, and she had another child on the way. However, she was running into some medical complications during her pregnancy. While I was missioned there, the Jesuits were working with a humanitarian advocate in order to help pregnant women with high medical risks to get appointments in a timelier manner so that they could get the medical help needed. One day the humanitarian advocate called saying that the border patrol had an unexpected opening, and Cassandra was able to get an appointment if she arrived at the border within the next hour. So, we immediately tried calling Cassandra on her temporary phone, but there was no answer. Then, one of the Jesuits decided to call Mauricio, another migrant in the same shelter. When we told him the circumstances, he was moved with compassion for Cassandra. But, sadly, he did not know where Cassandra was at that time. After a brief pause, Mauricio came up with an idea: He turned to one of his buddies and asked him for help. Then that friend asked another; and before you know it, there was a large team of migrants going tent by tent through the shelter looking for Cassandra. The compassion spread, and all of these migrants were determined to help Cassandra and her family make it to her appointment. At last, they did find her, and she was able to make it to the border agency just in time to get that appointment slot. It was a moment of great joy.
But, it was a moment of great joy precisely because it was a moment of great compassion. Mauricio could have stopped and given up when he realized that he did not know where Cassandra was. He could have contented himself with the small compassion that merely feels the sorrows of another in one’s heart. But, his compassion was too great, so he did everything in his ability to help alleviate that sorrow. This is the type of compassion that Jesus shows in the Gospel today as looks upon the large crowds and is moved with pity for them. His compassion is too great to stop merely at commiseration. His mercy moved him to provide the remedy as he was able to; and, as a result, he multiplies the bread and feeds everyone to satisfaction and more. Jesus shows us that deep mercy does not simply remain in the heart, but true compassion flows outward in deeds. As St. Ignatius reminds us, true love is shown more in deeds than merely in words.
In this way, Jesus provides an example of what great compassion might mean for us. True compassion not only feels the sorrow of another as one’s own, but it also seeks to alleviate that suffering, whether it be of body or of soul, as much as it is possible. Of course, we might not have the ability to solve all of the world’s problems; nevertheless, mercy moves us to do what we can and are called to do. Therefore, following the example of Mauricio and especially that of Jesus, let us have merciful hearts; and let us have the heart of compassion that does not stop short.