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  • Writer's picturePhil


And when he saw the crowds he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd.

“SYMPATHY IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR ACTION”, were the words coined by David Livingstone, a missionary to Africa. When we think of the word ‘sympathy’, it isn’t usually associated with something negative. It’s feelings of compassion, pity and concern that make people cry alongside someone else or feel sorrow when they hear bad news.

Sympathy was an attribute that Jesus displayed time and time again, He felt for others and their situations. “When He saw the crowd, He was moved with pity and sympathy for them, because they were bewildered (harassed and distressed and dejected and helpless), like sheep without a shepherd.”

Matthew 9:36

The Gospel tells us that when Jesus saw the vast crowd, His heart was moved with pity for them. But Jesus had compassion on them not only because of their illnesses, woes and pains, but more so because they were like sheep without a shepherd, they needed guidance, they were searching for leadership.

Many people pray wanting a magic cure for their illness or a magic bullet for their problems. But that is not what faith is all about. Faith is about forgiveness, reconciliation, acceptance and trust.

St. Paul tells us of his acceptance and trust in God: “I am content with weakness, with mistreatment, with distress, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ; for when I am powerless, it is then that I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Our relationship with God should not be based on getting what we want, but on a kind of faith that enables us to trust God, and to find peace in our hearts amidst the challenges and difficulties we face in life.


Sympathy is a God-given emotion, but it is a response that should spur us into action! Jesus led by example; His compassion was always followed by an action.

Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him,

and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Mark 1:41

When God stirs sympathy within you pause,

and ask Him what He would like you to do.

Perhaps He is asking you

to go

to give

to pray.

What action do you need to take?

The person in misery does not need a look that judges and criticises, but a comforting presence.

Jesus looked at the ordinary people, and seeing how needy they were,he had compassion on them and began to minister to them.

Compassion means that I suffer with you;I accept into my heart the misery in yours;I become one with you in your pain. I may not be able to relieve that pain, but by understanding it and sharing it, I make it possible for you to bear it.

Lord, give us warm and generous hearts so that we may be agents of your compassion to others.

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