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Jesus was walking by a village, and there was a funeral procession. A widow was about to bury her only son. The Scripture said that Jesus had “pity” on her. The original word for “pity” is a Greek word splagchnizomai. I mention this because it is very hard to translate this word into English. We simply do not have a term that adequately expresses its full meaning. The best I can do is translate it as “wiggle-guts.” “Wiggle-guts” happens when there is an explosion of energy that occurs inside of your heart, soul, and mind that compels you to do something great. And that is exactly what happens with Jesus. He takes his hand and places it on the dead child and the child immediately comes back to life. All the tears and sorrows are turned to joy. That is what God does. He turns mourning into gladness, tears to laughter. All because God has “wiggle-guts.” (a movement in the heart).
Another time the word is used is in the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man on his way to Jericho falls to robbers who strip and beat him, leaving him on the ground half dead. A Samaritan walked by, saw the man, and splagchnizomai. His innards experienced an explosion of energy that compelled him to do something great. He saved the man’s life. Not everyone has this kind of experience. The priest and the Levite walk by the same man, in the same situation, with the same opportunity, yet they did nothing. So some people have it and some people do not. Which makes me ask the question: how do you get splagchnizomai?
Another time the word is used is found in the parable of the prodigal son. We know the story. The younger son asks for his father for his share of the inheritance. After he squanders it all. There is a drought and the young man has no food. He acts on his only option and returns back to his father. In the distance, the father sees his son and there it appears again: splagchnizomai. The father experiences an explosion of energy from his heart, soul, and mind that compels him to do something great. He runs to his dying son, saves him, and brings him back into his home. Again, not everyone has splagchnizomai. The older son has no compassion for the younger brother. Some have it and some do not. So how do you get wiggle-guts? How do you get this explosion of energy that compels you to do great things?
Jesus tells us in the Gospel when asked what is the most important Law from the prophets. The most important laws are love God and love neighbor. These are the two most important things we will ever do in our lifetime. So important that you better write it down. Did you write it down? Where. Did you write in on a post-it that is affixed on your computer screen? That way, when you wake up in the morning you can read it and remind yourself, “Oh yeah, I have to do that today.” Or is it written in a book? You have to go to your bookshelf, pull out the book, then open to the right page, and read it. “Oh yes, I forgot about that law.” I have good news. You can find these two laws in the book of Deuteronomy. But when was the last time you read the book of Deuteronomy? That is why Jesus tells us to love God with our heart, soul, and mind. The law has to be written inside of us.
Compassion. Some people have it and some people don’t. If you want to be the one who has it, make sure the most important thing you will ever do as a human being is written in the right place: in your heart, soul, and mind. So when you go out there and see an opportunity, you will instantly have the energy and the power to do something really great.Back to All Homilies