The Parish of Burchetts Green
© The Parish of Burchetts Green 2017
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Compassion is more than kindliness; it is not just pity or concern,but rather a deep offering of unconditional love. There are many instances in our interaction with our fellow human beings that affect us and prompt a response.
The suffering of the sick, the bereaved, the poor, the lost and the lonely are just some of the times when we feel moved to respond with compassion. In order to do so we have to overcome our own human frailty that of placing the others' needs before our own.
Compassion is one of the qualities that is essential to rite standard of care we can hope to receive when we are at our most vulnerable. We have all, hopefully, at times felt that we have been cared for and looked after with compassion. From a mother's tender care for her child to a wonderful nurse or carer - compassion shines through to bring comfort and healing.
I spent many years working in the NHS and I can without hesitation recall colleagues from across the many disciplines who dedicated their lives to caring for others with great compassion and sensitivity. Today that continues and we must hold onto that as the wider political lessons are learnt.
Keeping the welfare of others at the top of any list of safeguards and improvements will ensure that compassion is allowed to flow unhindered by fear of reprisals. Compassion also asks us to go where it hurts; - to enter places of pain and to share in fear and confusion. In other words we are asked to identify with all the conditions of being human.
Christianity teaches us to care as the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30) reminds us. The Samaritan not only 'showed mercy' on the victim but 'took care of him'. Our prayers for others link them to the unconditional love of God as seen in Jesus Christ and therefore access to his compassionate love.
Perhaps we can remember this when we pray for our loved ones and all those who give and receive care.
As I write winter seems to have well and truly arrived and reminds us of the need to be aware of our elderly and more vulnerable neighbours. Giving them a call or popping round to see if all is well ensures they are safe and cared for.
Christmas seems a long time ago now and the new year almost a month old! The Parish appeared to be in good heart over the festive season and the services on the whole were well at tended which is always welcome news.
I have been very shocked and upset (as I expect you have too) to read the recent reports in the national press following the investigation into the failings of a specific NHS hospital.
It has made very disturbing reading as relatives have recounted their stories and experiences of how their loved ones were let down so badly. Unnecessary suffering and neglect of vulnerable patients is simply not acceptable. All patients and relatives should expect safe standards of care to be delivered and with dignity and respect for each individual maintained.
We ask ourselves how this sad state of affairs could have happened. Many observations have been offered including lack of appropriate staff, the climate of fear generated around missed targets that lead to job losses and so on. There may well be some truth in these explanations but I think there is a deeper malaise that has come to the surface. This has led me to reflect on the word 'compassion'.
'Compassion' is a biblical word and is intrinsically linked to Jesus - 'The Lord is full of compassion and mercy' (James 5:11). The parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke15:ll) tells us that the father (representing our heavenly Father)was filled with compassion for his returning son. Jesus also had compassion on the man with leprosy who begged Jesus to heal him (Markl140).