Lent with Julian of Norwich #2 – Wounds of Compassion

As for the third gift..I conceived a strong desire to receive three wounds in my life; that is to say, the wound of true contrition, the wound of kind compassion and the wound of purposeful longing for God.

Julian of Norwich Revelations of Divine Love; Long Text Chapter 2

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that has come upon you, as though something strange was happening to you. But rejoice that you share the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of His Glory.

1 Peter 4: 12-13

When we reflect upon how Christ demonstrated compassion during his earthly ministry, we do not need to look far to see how much it wounded him. Ultimately, although it was the declarations of his deity that led to the drama surrounding his Passion, we can recognise I think that it was his compassion that brought a polemical affront to the religious status quo from the outset of his earthly ministry. Stopping for the women with the issue of blood and declaring her well, rather than have her stoned to death for ‘contaminating’ a Rabbi, or striking up a conversation with an adulteress and asking her to serve him water, were both astounding displays of how far he was willing to stoop to connect with the brokenness of humanity. The miracle of his incarnation was merely the beginning, for it was what he did amongst us as the Holy One of God that brought a lasting revelation of his divine nature. It is unlikely that either of these two women had received true kindness for years. In the first instance, the isolation from loving touch that resulted from twelve years of constant mensuration must have brought such abject loneliness, and in the second, the only touch that she would have received was probably found within the confines of the lust of her many ‘husbands’. Touch; so powerful.

Christ’s compassion wounded him, for it was the wounds of mankind that he came to bind, salve and ultimately heal. True compassion requires a level of honest commitment that goes way beyond simply recognising a person’s pain. True compassion requires us to ‘enter in’ just as Christ entered in. And that is costly; it will probably wound us, especially when we recognises that we are often so powerless to help. But ultimately, there is such joy in seeing the riches of his love seek to bring the same comfort to others that, were we to be in the same position, would be crying out for ourselves.

Categories: Devotional, Lent 2019

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