As a recovering lazy-ass myself, I'm pretty sure I exhausted the realm of sickness deception many times over. I used deaths, car accidents, diarrhea, rare illnesses, religion, legal troubles and just about every other disgusting kind of excuse all so I can stay at home and earn less money. I like to think that I have a knack for identifying bogus illnesses and excuses. On the other end of the phone today was a teacher with pink eye. He believed it to be a full-proof excuse, but when kids are out of the picture, pink eye isn't that bad. And therein lies my problem. Regardless of its validity, a viewed his "pink eye" as one of many interchangeable illnesses that are offered as an excuse to stay at home. Not once while talking to him did I consider that maybe he actually did have pink eye. I was simply sniffing around his story looking for holes. In short, I have become fatigued. My overuse of and overexposure to fraudulent claims of sickness have tired me so that I am indifferent to employees who get sick. I had no compassion for his situation.
The compassion pouring from the souls of devout Christian followers is undeniable. No other religion in the world puts its own golden rule into practice more than Christians do. Christian missionaries have been traveling the world since the time of Paul all the way up to the Jesuits who kept the ball rolling well into the 19th Century.
Go throughout the whole world and preach the gospel to all people. -Mark 16:15Compassion is, of course, an integral part of missions, but there are many people who might disagree. I used to be one of those people. I viewed mission work more as conquest, colonialism, destruction of culture and nature, and regional oppression. Compassion just didn't do it for me. You might be confused by this. If you recall the story about the remorse I felt after accidentally causing the death of an ant, you would think that compassion is deeply ingrained in my spirit and in a way you'd be partly correct.
I have always had compassion for the helpless, but I'm coming to realize how easy it is to exhaust that well. Everyday I turn on the television and see extreme suffering. The suffering from the earthquakes in Haiti and China was plastered on every screen all over the world. The continued famine and poverty in North Korea makes it into my living room daily and, of course, the unrelated but devastating maritime disasters in the Yellow Sea and the Gulf of Mexico have kept most of us on this peninsula pretty drained. Couple the problems in the real world with the fact that people find entertainment value in movies and television programs depicting human suffering and it's no surprise that while people are naturally compassionate, we see little of it practiced.
I've been spending a lot of time looking at this:
Of course, the actual crucifixion was much more disturbing, but it brings me to my main point. Some people see the execution of Jesus as a fulfillment of His promise. And they're right. Jesus predicted his death and without it, he could not have risen from the dead thus confirming his claims. The continuing use of this image, however, presents humans with two paths.
We could lump it in with all the other images of death and human suffering that we see everywhere we look. Or we could use it as a springboard to help others. Here's the difference for me.
This image irks me deeply. It stirs an emotion deep within, however, I'm not sure how to act on it. Do I get depressed or should I educate? Perhaps I can pass laws to make sure this doesn't happen again. Honestly, I feel anger. I'm angry at the white crowd who believed it was their right to do this.
This one of a Chinese-tortured member of the Falun Gong makes me hope for bad things to happen to the Chinese government and even some of its people. It's torture for sure and the Chinese government has been known to execute members for practicing their beliefs. Someone should pay, right?
Neither of these images of death and torture inspire compassion. Sure, I feel extreme guilt and sympathy for anyone in a situation like this, but my physical reaction is one of anger. However, when I see Jesus on the cross, I feel total and pure compassion. I can feel his compassion for us. I can feel God's love and I can feel the true message of love. For many years, I thought that the Crucifix was there for guilt and considering that many contemporary churches are opting for the more positive vibe during service by getting rid of the Crucifix, it's clear that I was not the only one.
Nonetheless, the Catholic church has remained steadfast in its use and for that I deeply applaud them. The brutal execution of Christ might make some feel guilty for their sins, but the image of that day should not. Maybe I'm alone on this, but when I see Jesus on that cross, I feel the warmth of his love and the desire to serve my fellow man. I don't feel angry or litigious, nor do I feel wrathful or vengeful. I feel pure. The Crucifix is a reminder to those who are overwhelmed by images of suffering to the point of fatigue that we still have something in us. There's still a spark of compassion within each of us that is untapped and ready to share with the world.