Lent Alphabet (C)

COMPASSION

Now, now- it is the Lord who speaks- come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning. Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn, turn to the Lord your God again for he is all tenderness and COMPASSION, slow to anger, rich in graciousness and ready to relent.

Each of the readings in the Liturgy of the Word for Ash Wednesday speak to me of a call to conversion and wholeness. They do this in slightly different ways. The Prophet Joel’s words are a rallying cry for a community in crisis. It is time for the community to turn back to the Lord. Their turning back is possible and desirable because God’s very being is compassion.

In Jewish thinking compassion is one of the highest virtues and marks of a faithful Jew. The word compassion (rahamanut) shares its root with the word for womb (rehem). The faithful keeping of Torah is a means by which the heart and soul are shaped in tenderness and compassion. The Torah binds in love, as a mother is bound to her child in the womb.

Lent is an invitation for us to turn our hearts and minds back to God. It’s an invitation to compassion for others and for ourselves.

How can you nurture compassion this Lent?

(Joel 2:12-18, Ash Wednesday)