Compassion as a Sign


Isaiah 49:13

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people,
and will have compassion on his suffering ones.


The prophetic words spoke of a day and time when the people of God would give and receive compassion. The whole earth will rejoice at the complete and total healing which will be revealed in the lives of God’s people. The joy of this salvation will no longer be contained, but spontaneous singing will break out. God will comfort his people and reach out in compassion to his children who are suffering. This will be a sign of a new day.


This passage in the Old Testament is a foreshadowing of what is to come. A divine prophecy that things would be different after the Messiah came. Later in Matthew 25 we Jesus’ prophetic words about the coming judgement. However, he makes clear that in the meantime there is an expectation for God’s holy people. Jesus is ushering in a new kingdom, one in which all of humanity is welcomed into participation with God. This participation is very specific for it relates to compassion. Acts of mercy bestowed upon those who are suffering become signs of the presence of God. 

Those who inherit the kingdom of God are those who reflect the actions of God. They participate in God’s mission so that God comforts and has compassion on his suffering ones through all of us. 

Matthew 25:35-40
...for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Sing for joy, break out in praise, when compassion becomes a sign of God’s presence in our very midst. Take every opportunity to welcome the stranger, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoner, and give food to the hungry. By doing this we participate in the advent of the Messiah. The light of Christ burns brighter in the world as compassion becomes a sign; God with us, Emmanuel. 


Lord, we see the needs around us, and we hear the voices crying out to us. Please, help us to have compassion on those who are suffering. May you be reflected in all of our actions. Amen. 


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