The Authority of Compassion – from Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey

The Church often wounds us deeply.  People with religious authority often wound us by their words, attitudes, and demands.  Precisely because our religion brings us in touch with the questions of life and death, our religious sensibilities can get hurt most easily.   Ministers and priests seldom fully realize how a critical remark, a gesture of rejection, or an act of impatience can be remembered for life by those to whom it is directed.

There is such an enormous hunger for meaning in life, for comfort and consolation, for forgiveness and reconciliation, for restoration and healing, that anyone who has any authority in the Church should constantly be reminded that the best word to characterize religious authority is compassion.   Let’s keep looking at Jesus whose authority was expressed in compassion.

For further reflection…

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” – Ephesians 5: 1,2 (NIV)

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