Some years ago we heard the story of a parish conducted by an active religious order. In the community there was one priest who was the bane of the brethren, judged by all (but especially the younger men) as lazy and inefficient, always disheveled; clearly an embarrassment to the apostolate of this eminent Order. He slept in late and could only manage to preside each day at the noon Mass, then have lunch and go back to his room. They never saw much of him. And soon they never saw him at all. He didn’t show up for his Mass one day; and the rector found him dead in his cluttered, stuffy room. After he died the doctor told the rector of the rare, incapacitating disease this priest had endured for years; the bone-numbing fatigue that was part of it. The rector recounted the priest’s daily routine- the single Mass, the drowsy lunch, the laziness. “Oh no, not laziness, Father,” the doctor assured him. “The little he was able to do was truly heroic.”
Maybe we come to understand. So much has happened. So many stories, the stories that we are, that we carry within us, stories that have formed and sometimes burden us still; so many triumphs and sorrows that have marked us. Only Jesus sees and really understands. He always notices. And slowly but surely we are invited to begin doing likewise. Our task is to keep noticing with the compassionate, merciful eyes of Christ, to have his compassionate mind in us, and so to get on our way to becoming compassion for one another.