“He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted.” (Isaiah 61:1)
The eighth step of the “Way of the Heart” is entitled, “A mission of compassion,” and focuses on how this entire spirituality of the “Way of the Heart” propels us outward to encounter the world and the most vulnerable of society.
Jesus daily invites us into his mission of compassion towards the world and this can be a difficult task. What this means is that we must look at everyone with the eyes of Jesus and see them as he sees them.
The documents guiding the recreation of the PWPN further explain this step.
We are invited to make our own the Father’s loving gaze upon humanity and to act with the Heart of Jesus Christ. We are sent out to the margins of human life in different ways, together with his Son. We are sent to the places where men and women are suffering injustice, to help heal and support the brokenhearted.
Unfortunately, often our eyes can be clouded by prejudices, racism or a revulsion to any person who is different from us. These sinful tendencies are temptations propagated by the world and we must pray daily never to fall prey to them. The Gospel message of love and compassion was never meant to be limited to a certain class of individuals. God came to save all who were lost, regardless of what social status they may have.
It is our duty as Christians to “heal the brokenhearted” and this often entails going to the “peripheries” of society. Pope Francis never ceases to emphasize the need to do this difficult action. In 2016 he spoke to the Jesuits and reminded them of this mission from the heart of Saint Ignatius.
To walk together — free and obedient — moving toward the margins of society where no one else reaches, “under the gaze of Jesus and looking to the horizon which is the ever greater glory of God, who ceaselessly surprises us.” As Saint Ignatius reminds us, a Jesuit is called “to think and to live in any part of the world where there is a greater need of service to God and assistance for souls” [Con., 304]. The fact is that “the Society must feel at home anyplace in the world.”
Yet, this mission to go to the “margins of society” is not something reserved for Jesuits, but is the fundamental mission of all Christians. Indeed, Pope Francis even signed a joint declaration with the Archbishop of Canterbury affirming this call of the Gospel.
We are united in the conviction that ‘the ends of the earth’ today, is not only a geographical term, but a summons to take the saving message of the Gospel particularly to those on the margins and the peripheries of our societies.
Above all things we are challenged to view other people as God sees them. We must not let any “filter” come over our eyes as we encounter our fellow brothers and sisters in the world and instead trade our eyes for the Eyes of Christ. With his Eyes, we can truly see people for who they really are and extend treat them with the utmost compassion that they deserve.
Let us go forward every day aware of our mission of compassion, even going out to the margins of society to bring Christ’s love.