"Joy is hidden in compassion," writes Henri Nouwen who defines the word compassion to literally mean "to suffer with." While it seems odd that suffering with another person would bring joy, Jesus shows us how being with a person in pain, offering simple presence to someone in despair can bring us deep joy.
To the stranger lost in a place that is foreign to them, compassion can be the presence of God that they had been praying and searching for. This is true of how we view the homeless in our country says Philip Mangano who created the American Roundtable to Abolish Homelessness. And so, taking his lead, I would add that instead of simple compassion we transform the action to companion.
Mangano breaks down the word this way; 'com' means to gather or come together, and 'pan' has a literal meaning which is bread. Through the coming together and breaking bread with someone is the act of compassion that brings joy.To offer food from the table of fellowship where God's kindness and grace are revealed. This is the celebration of the Lord's Supper.
It is here in " the quiet joy of being there for someone else and living in deep solidarity with our brothers and sisters in this human family" that Nouwen finds the joy of being with God. He adds' "Often this is a solidarity in weakness, in brokenness, in woundedness, but it leads us to the center of joy, which is sharing our humanity with others."
I encourage you to go beyond compassion and be a companion with a stranger (perhaps Jesus or Jesús) and break bread together to truly experience the joy of true humanity.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”