Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"A primary quality of a life deeply centered in God is growth in compassion.  This meaning is expressed in perhaps the most concise summary of Jesus's teaching in the gospels.  The verse, Luke 6:36, combines theology (what God is like) and ethics (how we are to live) in a few words: be compassionate as God is compassionate.  God's primary quality is compassion; therefore, a life centered in God will be compassionate.

Compassion in the Bible has rich resonances of meaning.  It is linguistically related to the Hebrew and Aramaic word for 'womb' and sometimes refers to what a mother feels for the children of her womb.  Thus naming 'compassion' as God's primary quality means that God, like a mother, is 'womb-like'; life-giving, nourishing, willing the well-being of her children, and desiring our maturation.  So also we are to be like that: centering in God the compassionate one leads to growth in compassion. . . .

But compassion in the Bible is not simply a virtue for individuals.  It should not be confused with kindness, even though kindness is a great virtue and to be much preferred over its alternatives.  Rather, compassion has a social meaning as well--and thus a political meaning.  The social form of compassion--and of love--is a world of justice (of economic fairness and, of course, human rights) and a world without the violence of domination systems and war."

-- Marcus Borg, Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most


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