14 Also, let’s hold on to the confession since we have a great high priest who passed through the heavens, who is Jesus, God’s Son; 15 because we don’t have a high priest who can’t sympathize with our weaknesses but instead one who was tempted in every way that we are, except without sin.
God’s compassion for humanity is a core doctrine of our faith. At the heart of Christianity is the notion that God literally stepped into the world – living our life, dying our death – in order to identify with humanity.
The Church teaches that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. In his humanity, he knows the whole range of emotions: everything from anger to sadness, grief, frustration, and love. In his divinity, he is capable of things that we simply cannot fathom: his courage in facing the cross, his limitless ability to forgive, his love that includes all people, and his Resurrection from the dead.
God realized that the way to love and serve humanity was to first identify with humanity. Not in an intellectual, superficial way, the way that we sometimes do, like when we try to listen to children while being half-distracted by the phone or TV. We too often assume we understand someone’s situation and feelings based on one or two quick conversations with them, and act accordingly. And because of our low investment and desire for a quick fix, we often find that we get it wrong.
What God did in Jesus Christ was so much more than that. It went so far beyond “walking a mile in our sandals” to identifying with us completely and totally. We don’t have a God who is distant, aloof, or disinterested in humanity. Instead, we have a God who understands and empathizes with our every struggle, every temptation, and who loves us anyway.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Have you ever had the experience of feeling deeply understood? Maybe along the way there’s been a parent, teacher, mentor, friend or partner who has helped you find hope in a situation where you’d found others less than empathetic. What difference did that kind of compassion make for you? Is there someone you know who needs to experience that kind of understanding and empathy today?
Prayer: God of Compassion, thank you for being willing to enter into our world and our lives with your love. Remind us, whenever we feel misunderstood, that you genuinely know how we feel – all the pain, all the struggle, all the challenges. You didn’t just walk a mile in our sandals: you walked all the way to the cross in order to save us. Amen.