Compassion for Others

On our Cursillo Weekend we experienced very deeply God’s compassion for us and the Cursillo community’s compassion for us. We encountered a love community who was there for us, and their care, attention and self-gift to us enabled us to encounter the One who is Absolute Love, Presence and Self-gift. Ideally, our gratefulness for this gift of compassion should convert us to a new relationship with others. Indeed, we should want to grow in the virtue of compassion to live lives of compassion to others.

Our Weekend experience gives the word “compassion” a whole new dimension of meaning. Compassion for Cursillistas is being fully present in a caring, attentive way to another so as to receive the presence and giftedness of the other. When we are compassionate, we give the other person our presence, our hearts and our minds. We offer ourselves totally as self-gift with the expectancy that we will discover the giftedness of the other. Since we are totally committed to the other, we suspend judgment of the other. Consequently, we see the other in an entirely different light.

Christ exemplifies for us the virtue of compassion. Christ lived a life of passionate relationship to others, was fully present to those whom he encountered and was totally self-giving to others. What a magnetic presence Christ must have been! How his sense of love and fellowship must have resonated with those who followed Him! He was clearly an enormous love force in their midst.

There are two essential steps to exercise compassion. First, center down by focusing your attention on your body, mind and will in a very gentle and loving way; we might look upon this step as being compassionate to ourselves. This act of self-compassion enables us to reach out to others. Then, focus on the person you wish to encounter in compassion, again in a gentle and loving way until you experience the presence of the other’s spirit. It will take some practice; so make a deliberate practice of being compassionate toward others. Being Christ means being compassionate toward others.

When we live compassion for others to its fullest degree, we become communion to others. As compassion is being spiritually present to others, communion is being physically present to others. In his book, Our Journey Home, Jean Vanier gives us an insight into the meaning of communion. He says that communion is being bodily present to others. Body language—gestures, tone of voice, the look in our eyes, a handshake or a hug—is the fundamental instrument of communion. In the way we look and listen, we can reveal to someone his or her importance and uniqueness.

People are hungering for communion,Vaniersays, though they may not be aware of the term. Compassion brought to the height of communion is the radical love of others that Christ is asking of us. Christ understood the human need of people for communion. On the night before He died, He gave us the Eucharist. Being communion to others helps us appreciate Christ’s being Communion to us.

As other Christs, we are called to love others as Christ did, but it is difficult. It takes practice and education of the heart to accept the unique differences of others. We must learn to accept that they are called to develop their own potentials, and we should be willing to help that process. We must learn to respect their personality types, especially when they are so different from our own. People’s diversity is God’s creativity.

Be compassion, be communion to others. In this way, we are empowered to make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ, whether the person is a candidate for Cursillo or a fellow Cursillista.