Even during this time of uncertainty and stress, January is a time for new beginnings, fresh starts. For the Christian steward, the grace of being given another day, or God willing, a whole new year, stirs our deep gratitude. But it also calls us to ask what a “resolution” should really be.
Our first resolve should always be to involve ourselves more intimately in the life of Christ, and how better to do that than by embracing Christ’s call to be compassionate. This past year our lives have been severely disrupted, admittedly to some more than others. But Jesus himself instructed us, “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate” (Luke 6:36). Clearly, we strive now to live and give compassionately, as we generally understand the term. We try to be kind, considerate and understanding individuals. We share with others. But Jesus’ words challenge us to embrace a compassion that is much deeper, much more radical than our general understanding. The word compassion, at its root, means “to suffer with.” This goes beyond merely writing a check, offering a prayer or sending a note. Suffering is not a popular notion in our society and we strive to avoid it. But now we hear Christ instructing us to “suffer with” the poor, the vulnerable, the powerless, the neglected, the weak.
How can we possibly choose such a journey, this challenge to be truly present to those who suffer, especially at a time when we are instructed to keep our distance? All things are possible with God, and it is through a commitment to a life of discipline, a creative discipline in action and discipline in prayer, that we move towards the goal of true compassion. The Christian steward is committed to the Eucharistic life, and it is through this life which Christ offers us that we gain the courage and the will and even the creativity to follow him in his own example of compassion. Compassion is the doorway to a more responsive stewardship and a committed discipleship. Through our deepening sense of compassion in 2021, may we resolve to be the kind of Christian stewards who bring Christ’s presence to a suffering world.