“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” - Matthew 9.35-38
Imagine the scene. Jesus is traveling city to city, teaching, healing, and doing everything possible to inspire a love revolution. Then they come to a clearing where they can see the massive crowd, and Jesus pauses. The camera pans through the crowds focusing on people afflicted from religious stoning, whipped and beaten by the government, wrongfully imprisoned, sickness, depression, anxiety, rich getting richer and poor getting poorer, racism. The camera quickly rewinds back through the crowd to a close up on Jesus. He turns to his disciples who are looking at him, looking at the crowd, thinking there is no end to this and questioning ever following Jesus and his way. Then it all comes back into perspective when Jesus breaks the emotional silence with inspiration - this thing is real, the time is now, we need to help so pray, send thoughts, meditate, yell out, scream to the heavens, shake your fists, beat the ground, because those are the people that will join the way of love. All they need are some people who will be moved with compassion to love them as they are.
“Compassion” in the original language used here actually meant that he was moved in the depths of his inner entrails (heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys). This was known as the “seat of affections.” Jesus was so moved with compassion that his insides were being turned inside out like a mother watching her child being afflicted from a distance. I question if the struggle for Jesus was that he wanted to do much more, but it was humanly impossible because the need was so vast. He was watching his family suffer. The crowd knew there was something better, something beyond, something other than the current. The crowd sensed it. Jesus felt it.
I couldn't help but think about this story when I was admiring all the pictures from the Woman’s March and reflecting on the uncertain times we are entering with the Inauguration of Trump. Jesus was subverting major religious institutions and the Roman Empire that both had the boot on the chest of common people. Whether you are Christian, Atheist, Agnostic, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish… at least acknowledging Jesus’ compassion together, I believe, will arise a spirit within us to see with new eyes. Does that mean we cannot be angry? Does that mean we have to roll over and not fight? No!
Love is angry. Jesus protested by throwing tables and cracking a whip inside a synagogue because of the injustice that was happening.
Love fights. It’s not a physical battle fought with weapons. It fights with forgiveness, empathy, compassion, prayer, inspiration, acts of kindness. Love doesn't fight by destroying hate. Love fights through creating more love.
Be laborers of love!