"The call to compassion has been with me for a long time. A life-size replica of Michelangelo's Pieta rests in a large niche at the front of my religious community's chapel. Ever since my days as a young member, I have felt the call to accompany others in their suffering. When I gaze at the depiction of Mary sitting with the body of her executed son across her lap, I see a mother whose grief weighed like a boulder on her maternal heart. I long to receive those who suffer with the depth of Mary's loving presence.
"Compassion thrived in the heart of Jesus and in his teachings. If there is one virtue that most exemplified his life, it is this one. While I esteem the wisdom of various religious traditions that emphasize compassion in their principles, I most of all resonate with those of my beloved teacher, Jesus, a person of immense love. When Jesus urged his followers to be compassionate, he knew what he was asking. Everywhere he went his awareness of people's suffering became evident. He poured out his love and gave generously of his time, energy, and concern to relieve their pain of body, mind, and spirit.
"Jesus also challenged those whose policies, regulations, and personal behavior caused or contributed to suffering. As his voice for justice gained strength, so did the voices of those who wanted him destroyed. Jesus knew both the risk and the price to be paid for being committed to compassion. In A Spirituality of Caregiving Henri Nouwen recognizes this challenge: 'The Gospel call to be compassionate is one that goes right against the grain, that turns us completely around and requires a total conversion of heart and mind. It is indeed a radical call, a call that goes to the roots of our lives.' . . .
"My friend Kathy commented one day that there is a big difference between a nudge and a shove. A nudge moves us toward growth. A shove initiates resistance. Boundless Compassion is meant to nudge, encourage, and inspire each reader to be a beloved, Christlike presence. Being 'a living Christ' today compels us to embody compassion as he did, to ease suffering, to welcome and aid those who are most vulnerable, and to toil for justice in a global society that wields the heavy weight of domination and oppression. . . . "Broken, wounded, violent, damaged, divisive – these are some descriptions given to the current global situation. Our world desperately needs the noble, essential quality of compassion to be activated – and will not heal without it. Depending on how we respond, we can increase or decrease the amount of anguish in our world. Only with compassion at the core of humanity's lived experience will we be able to approach one another with true respect and dwell in peacefulness."