Jesus of Nazareth, the name conjures up a profound emotional reaction. For some, Jesus has too often been the subjective justification for overwhelming discrimination, alienation, and condemnation. For others, Jesus is the source of radically inclusive compassion.
In chapter nine of Matthew’s Gospel, the writer encapsulates the nature of God’s agenda on earth. Matthew boldly states: Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (9:35-36)
What Matthew conveys about Jesus is that God’s identity and drive is love. This is not a general fondness for humanity, but a deep abiding love for all people. The word compassion used in this verse translates, “he was moved from his inmost bowels.” Jesus’s very core nature is that of compassion.
In this chapter alone, Jesus healed a paralyzed man, blessed the friends who loved their friend and brought the friend to him, loved the Pharisees enough to tell them that their religiosity is blinding them from God’s true calling, called a despicable tax collector to follow him, healed a woman suffering from disease, resurrected a girl to life, restored her parents’ hope, gave sight to two blind men, gave the voice back to a man crippled by demons, and loved the Pharisees enough to rebuke them by showing them that God is more interested in transforming humanity through love.
Every day, you and I carry a bucket. It is the bucket of our lives. We have the choice to either fill up or empty our lives, and to either fill up or empty the lives of others. Jesus’ invitation is to rethink what’s in our bucket. Instead of a bucket full of hatred, grudges, judgment and fear, Jesus invites us to fill our lives with compassion that comes from God’s bountiful love for us.
As you carry your bucket, consider how you might fill the buckets of your neighbors, co-workers, and strangers with inclusive compassion. ■