Father Michael Barrow

From the parish of St Francis of Assisi

​EMMANUEL – THE COMPASSION OF GOD: A REFLECTION BY FR. MICHAEL BARROW, SJ

​EMMANUEL – THE COMPASSION OF GOD: A REFLECTION BY FR. MICHAEL BARROW, SJ


When someone is ill or in need we naturally have a strong desire to do something to help them.If there is something we can do, we feel much more satisfied, but that's not the point.Simply to be with them, to show them our support is the most important thing. That is real compassion.The compassion of God is Emmanuel - God is with us.

God is with us and that is something real. One of the more tangible effects of this union among ourselves is that it makes us present to each other even miles away.Everything we do, good or bad, affects all the others. For us in the Christian Church there is no such thing as a private act that doesn't touch others, whether it be sin or virtue, or anything else. This is both a wonderful consolation and a challenge. A consolation because we know we carry each other in love and union, beyond all distance – and even more than that, beyond death itself.It is the teaching of the Church that the bonds of affection we form in this life do not end with death, but continue afterwards. But this union is also a challenge, knowing that everything we do, be it ever so private, is either bad or good affecting the overall health of the body of Christ – affecting others right across the world.

What is important is hidden to the eyes. Only with your heart can you see rightly. This is not pretence, this is not imagination. To pray for those who are ill is not a polite attempt to pick them up, our prayers contain the power of Christ to heal in body and soul.

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