Examen on Compassion

Place yourself in the presence of the Lord and pray for enlightenment. Relax. Breathe deeply. Run quickly over the past few hours or days, allowing your real feelings to surface about the events that have been part of your life, the feelings you’ve buried so that you could make it through the day.

Pay attention to the way in which the Lord has been present to you. Where have you felt drawn to the Lord or moved to compassion? Where have you met the Lord when you felt afraid … misunderstood … tempted … relieved … happy? Turn to the Lord with gratitude.

Choose one incident or reaction that stands out particularly for you at this time and which is still not settled for you. Recall to mind the details of the incident and its context, the people involved, and how you feel about it.

Read in the Bible The Second Sign at Galilee (John 4:46-54)

Allow the royal official to show you how it feels to have someone show you compassion.

Then Jesus came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’ The official said to him, ‘Sir, come down before my little boy dies.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, ‘Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.’ The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he himself believed, along with his whole household. Now this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee. (Jn 4:46-54)

The royal official is burdened with concern that his son will die, and he catches a glimpse of hope when he hears that Jesus, who has performed many miracles, is nearby. So, he runs to meet the Lord. He expresses his genuine grief and sorrow about his son’s illness. Jesus expresses frustration that people keep demanding signs from him, yet it does not stop him looking at the official with compassion and answering his request.

As you read the passage again, notice that the Lord’s compassion for the royal official is so strong that, even though he was still a day’s journey away, the official believed that his son had been healed.

As you reflect again upon the incident or reaction that you chose for your examen, pretend that you are in the royal official’s place. The Lord looks at you with great compassion and tells you that you can go on living your life; he will take care of your greatest worries. What is it like to know that you concerns genuinely move the Lord to compassion?

Jesus looks at each of us, in our needs and worries, with great compassion because he loves us. What would it be like to trust that love, the power of that compassionate care that God has for you?

God’s great love for you is made manifest in the experiences of your life. As you make this examen, the Lord is right now moving your heart toward compassion.

Spend some time talking over with the Lord what you are learning and experiencing. With simplicity express your sorrow for any lack of compassion in your life and your gratitude for any movements you sense toward greater compassion through God’s grace.

Identify one step toward becoming a more compassionate person that you want to take going forward, a step that is actually possible for you. Pray for the grace to be a more compassionate person.

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