On the third day of Christmas an extra ordinary Jamaican gave to me:
The gift of compassion.
Another name for this gift is pity, though not the kind that looks down on others. Rather, this is the kind of pity that is touched with loving concern for another’s well-being. Compassion comes from the Greek root which means the bowels or the gut. It describes the compassion which moves a person to the deepest depths of her/his being. Everett Harrison says it carries the thought of yearning after another with great feeling (Baker’s Dictionary of Theology). This is the trait that motivated Jesus to call back from death the widow of Nain’s son—the last male in her life—since He was touched by her vulnerability in a society where the value of a woman was determined by the men in her life. It is the kind of emotion that will move us to selflessly reach out to alleviate the needs of the poor, the marginalized, the ostracized, and the weak. Yes, it is the kind of emotion that motivated God to become man at Christmastime 2000 years ago to save us from sin and it is the trait that will inspire us to reach out to others to improve their lots, transform their lives and give them new hope.
Dr. Bertram Melbourne,
Professor of Biblical Language and Literature
Howard University School of Divinity and
Interim Pastor Gaithersburg-Rockville District, Maryland.