An industrial Chaplain retells an incident where a young man came to him at work stuck in his pain between having a financially beneficial job and being more present to his wife.
The chaplain welcomed him, listened to his dilemma and then wondered aloud if the young man felt stuck between his head and his heart. His response led the chaplain to suggest to the young man that he listen to his heart. This invitation was sufficient to enable the young man to begin his inner exploration which an hour later led him to his own answer and to peace. No sermon, no lecture, no teaching was required.
On Sunday 5 February, we are invited by Isaiah (58:8) to let our “light shine like the dawn” which suggests that means acting justly. Then as related in Matthew (5:16), Jesus reiterates this teaching saying “let your light shine in the sight of all”.
Mary MacKillop did this by going to the margins as our present Pope Francis invites us now. St Teresa of Calcutta enacted her saying “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier”. None of these three put their light under a bushel. Compassion was (is) a hallmark of each.
Let’s for the moment, equate light with compassion.
Gabor Mate MD, in his new book The Myth of Normal, contends that healing the individual and detoxifying our culture, are intricately connected. He suggests that compassion is an essential pathway towards doing both.
This light of ours (yours and mine), this compassion of ours (yours and mine), is both soothing and consoling as well as motivating and energising, shedding light! The smile, the helping hand outreached, listening without judgement to another, the giving of a meal to a bereaved family, are all pathways to healing and moments of sacred connectedness.
They are all acts of compassion by which our light shines and our heavenly Father is praised.
Amanda Sturrock, Covenant Josephite
Frances Maguire rsj