Monday, September 24, 2012

On Compassion and Kinship.

Father Greg Boyle is a Jesuit priest in Los Angeles who leads one of the largest gang intervention programs in the nation. His motto: "Nothing stops a bullet like a job." He's walked some of the roughest streets alongside some of the roughest gang members, during some of the roughest decades of violence in LA. His pastoral gentleness, however, is instantly endearing.

This morning I watched a message he gave at Westmont College last year. He's a great storyteller, sharing tangible expressions of compassion being lived out on the streets of East L.A. He's funny, too. 

College is not about preparing for the real world, you are being prepared to challenge it. For the opposite of the real world is not the unreal world, but the Kingdom of God.  
We are called to imagine a circle of compassion and then imagine no one standing outside that circle.
Is there room in our compassion for everybody? We seek to say we stand at the margins, on the edges, for the powerless and the voiceless. We stand with those whose dignity has been denied. We stand with those whose burdens are more than they can bear. When you are really fortunate and lucky, you get to stand with the easily despised and the readily left out. With the demonized so the demonizing will stop and with the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away. 
The measure of compassion lies not in our service of those on the margins, but only in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them.
The one (Jesus) that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry, rather than stand in judgement at how they have to carry it. 
Lord, would I freely walk towards the edges, find friendship with the marginalized, bravely use my voice, challenge status quo and truly know and live the meaning of compassion. 


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