"A man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother and she was a widow." Lk 7:12
Compassion is a hallmark of the Gospel. Over and over, Jesus reaches out with mercy and kindness to those threatened with the loss of their identity, livelihood and voice. The widow he encounters whose only son has died is a powerful example of this. The vast majority of women at the time of Jesus, though honored and loved in their roles as wife and mother, lost everything if they were widowed and childless. Dependent on her husband's family for her survival, since it was her son who died, the widow has almost nowhere to turn.
It is true that a younger woman might seek a new husband, but most widows found themselves unsupported and lost. Jesus knew this and steps into the situation, seemingly without hesitation. A woman was in great need. He saw it. He saw her and responded with compassion.
The lesson for us is unmistakable. We must keep our eyes and ears open to and for all those without a voice, the poor, the ridiculed, the ignored and voiceless. For some this might mean finding a way to visit older people without families in their own neighborhood. For others, it might mean serving people with AIDS, especially those who have already been ostracized as drug addicts or homosexuals. While this is a tall order for most, the lesson Jesus teaches in reaching out to the widow whose only son has died is unavoidable. Those most in need, most deserve our love.
Today, show compassion to someone who expects nothing from you.
Who are the people in your life most in need of compassion?