There is an old tale of a cobbler who felt his faith growing weak one winter morning. So he prayed, "O Lord, please visit me today." He finished praying with the conviction that God would answer his prayer and that Jesus would come to his humble shop that day.
The cobbler opened the shop, where he made shoes, and started looking frequently out the window, expecting the Lord to arrive any moment. As he was watching, he saw one of his neighbors, an old workman, leaning against his shovel, shivering in the cold. The cobbler opened his door and called to the workman, "Come in and warm yourself with a bowl of soup and a cup of tea!" The man returned to his work some time later, warmed by the food and drink-and by the cobbler's kindness.
Later, the cobbler saw a woman pass by his window. In her arms she held a baby, loosely wrapped in a thin blanket. The baby was crying from the cold. The cobbler yanked his door open and called to the woman. "Please come inside. Warm yourself and your child." When the woman came inside, the cobbler found a much thicker blanket than the one she held and gave it to her. The woman left a few moments later, warmed by the cobbler's gift-and by his kindness.
Scenes like that were repeated several times throughout the day, as the cobbler watched and watched for the Lord to come to his humble shop. But night arrived, and still the cobbler watched. Finally, the day came to an end. The cobbler, disappointed, locked his doors and turned down his lamp. "Lord," he said, "I prayed for you to come to my shop today, but you did not."
Suddenly, the cobbler's room blazed with warm light, though the lamp still burned low. He heard a voice and knew immediately that it was the Lord's. "I came, Cobbler," the voice said. "And you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing for when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!"
The cobbler's story is only a fable, of course. But it beautifully illustrates an important truth: Our Lord views a compassionate act toward another human being as an act of compassion toward him. In fact, that's why he commands us to be compassionate because he values compassion.
REFLECT: How many different acts of compassion does Jesus mention in today's Bible reading? Can you do any of those things for someone? If so, what? If not, are there other ways you can show compassion to someone today? If so, how?
PRAY: "Lord, remind me today (and every day) that you value compassion. Help me to be kind and compassionate to those around me, especially to..."