Thursday, July 16, 2020


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 superior found him dead in his cluttered, stuffy room. After he died the doctor informed the superior of the rare incapacitating disease this priest had endured for years, the bone-numbing fatigue that was part of it. The superior recounted the priest’s daily routine - the one 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, stories that have formed and sometimes deformed and burden us still; so many triumphs and sorrows that have marked us. Only Jesus sees and really understands the little we have to live on, and what we live with. And he invites again this morning, "Come to me all you who are heavy burdened." He always notices. And slowly but surely, we are invited to begin doing likewise.

 We are reminded today that it’s always about compassion. The Gospel reveals to us a Jesus who notices when we are able to give without counting the cost. Even now, our generosity, the little things we do no matter how unremarkable give him pleasure. Please believe it. His promise to us is that when we are generous, we will have more than enough to get by. We can afford it.

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. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. Jesus invites us to become more and more the compassion that he is.

Photograph by Brother Brian.