“The Day I saw Jesus” is a title I borrowed from my friend, Sito Silva, for three entries in my still unpublished book, What’s for Breakfast?3, the third in a series of one-year daily devotions for children. These entries are about the compassion of Christ.
Compassion is the word that moved me most when we celebrated Christmas. The acts of kindness, especially to those who have less in life, shown by groups and individuals, were so palpable one had to be in a coma not to feel it.
I was with a group of ladies (Rotary Anns of Makati Central) that spent one morning at Ward 5 of the Philippine General Hospital with little children going through rehabilitation therapy: cancer patients, fire victims, genetically deformed, and handicapped learners.
Aside from suffering, one thing they have in common is poverty. They are indigents who could never afford medical assistance unless provided free.
A week before this visit, our group was given a wish list from these children. Each had something written opposite his name–a gift he wanted for Christmas. The wishes were nothing extraordinary: just a toy or a book. An advocate of reading, I took the chance to share with them my books.
The sparkle in their eyes when they received those gifts could melt even steel. The scenes were so poignant—kids in turbans, crutches, slings, casts, wheel chairs agog and agape—I bit my lips when my eyes moistened.
That didn’t help so I diverted my mind to events that had recently made me ecstatic—buying the pricey blouse I had coveted, on sale at 75% discount, and winning a door prize of an all-expense trip to Boracay.
They were reduced to insignificance and I couldn’t summon a smile but something else came unbidden—a feeling of undue privilege for being given the chance to emulate Jesus’ compassion, even for just one morning in celebration of His birth.
I sat unmoving, watching the other Anns—who cancelled parties and appointments—touch and hug the children while handing them their wished-for gifts. In those slomo moments, I saw my bejeweled friends mirror His compassion.
And I glimpsed Jesus. Not in the same magnitude as I read in Matthew , “When He went ashore he saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them and healed their sick,” but with the same spirit.
Now here is a similar day from a leaf of Sito’s journal—into which he allowed his friends to peek, and which I will try to summarize: One day Sito and his wife were in a fast food shop. A man in rags—as though he hadn’t bathed in years—came in. The diners covered their noses, the waiters stared, and the guards scratched their heads.
Carrying a small empty bottle, the man walked with a sense of purpose. People rudely stared, but he walked with dignity and went straight to the water fountain, filling his bottle with water. Then he went right back to the door.
“The man risked being laughed at, or shooed away, just so he could give the little boy cold water. It was then that I cried. The poor man’s image offering the little boy water to drink was set in my mind forever. There was this strong feeling within me. Then I knew I saw Jesus!”
And one other day . . .
I could not remember what the TV ad was selling, but I will never forget what it was about.
He dug into his pocket and put cash onto the beggar’s palm.
Over two thousands years after He has gone back to heaven, His Holy Spirit makes us feel His presence in our lives and His compassion through acts of kindness.
And one more day . . .
EVERY GOOD THING we see people do and say to others reflect the compassion of Jesus, if just for fleeting moments. They are snippets--and reminders--of what He was and did His whole life till the day He died for all.
I have been reflecting on these special days as the year 2006 ends. Have others seen this compassion through me? Have they seen it often enough?
By His grace, I will find more such days in the year 2007 and be constantly reminded that compassion is not just an occasional act of kindness but a way of life.