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JRS Online Retreat: Day 9 – Call to Live with Compassion
Tuesday, November 09, 2010

“The Reign of God must be accepted – by rich, poor, women, men. All are sinners; all must repent and accept forgiveness."

As you begin your prayer today, remember that you are in God’s holy presence. Become aware of how God gazes on you all the time, how tenderly and powerfully God regards you. Ask God for what you want in prayer:

Ask God to recognize and know the Lord Jesus as your mentor for a life of love and service.  

Reflections for Prayer

Fr. Mark Raper, S.J.
President, Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific
[Former JRS International Director]

Manila, 9 November 2010 – Is it possible that someone who has experienced irremediable loss can one day be joyful, and learn to give joyfully? Can deep sadness and despair ever be overcome by the desire to serve others? Can I ask for and realistically expect the grace of compassion towards those who do me harm?

Years ago, I met a Cambodian woman, Anne Noeum Yok Tan, who looked after unaccompanied children in a Thai refugee camp while awaiting her resettlement in France. Ten of Noeum Yok Tan’s own children had died under the Pol Pot regime. One by one, her husband had written a little poem or reflection on the back of each one’s baptismal certificate. When he too was killed by a Khmer Rouge cadre, she gathered the precious folios together and fled. On her way through the jungle, she found by chance her two surviving children, and they crossed the border together. Ultimately, the collection of poems was published in a book dedicated to the martyrs of the Cambodian Church. In her introduction she wrote:

With this book I give you what is dearest to me. My life is not easy now, but I do not despair. I hope in God. I believe God is my Father and will not abandon me. One day I shall join my husband and my children and we shall be all together again. Ten of my children are dead, and my husband has been killed, but I do not hold it against anyone. I have no spite against anyone at all. Nor did my husband hate the Khmer Rouge. He did not want to avenge himself for the evil they had done.  I am like him.  If I meet the one who killed my husband, I will not hate him, for I have no hate in my heart: I have accepted to strip myself of everything.  In any case, I am not the only one to suffer. It is a whole people, a whole country that suffers as well. But one day, I am sure, Cambodia will once again know happiness.

What precious lessons this artisan of peace demonstrated. She had lost so much, yet she had so much to live for.  What grace she was given, and what a driving force this grace became in her life. Can I ask for the grace to live and act with compassion in my heart?

Address God as a friend speaks to a friend. 

Talk to God about your response, your own needs and your deepest desires.

End your prayer with the Our Father, the prayer Jesus taught us.

Suggested Reading for Prayer

Luke 10:30-34

A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. 

"The Reign of God must be accepted – by rich, poor, women, men. All are sinners; all must repent and accept forgiveness. In practice, this means accepting the offer of new social relations.  In Jesus' ministry, God gathers the poor, the outcast sinners, women, the sick and lepers, the children, Samaritans and eventually the gentiles – all the rejected and "unimportant" people – into a new community where they will serve one another and no one will dominate."  ~ Dean Brackley, S.J.