By Gregory Kepferle, CEO,
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
I have to confess the title of this article came from a saying on a fortune cookie. The other night my wife and I wanted some comfort food, so we drove to a Chinese restaurant in Morgan Hill and ordered our favorite dishes. At the end of the meal, we opened our fortune cookies and mine said: “Compassion will cure more than condemnation.” It hit me right in the gut. How often have I condemned those with whom I disagree, or who appear to have done some terrible thing, or who I believe have hurt me or ones I care about? How can I do jiu-jitsu on my own judging of people who condemn others or whose behaviors I believe are worthy of condemnation? Jesus reminds us in Matthew, “Judge not, least ye be judged” and God’s rain pours down on the just and the unjust alike.
How do I have compassion on someone who appears to be my enemy? It’s not enough just to have good intentions. I need to be mindful of the impact on others of my own thoughts, my own words, my own actions. “Compassion will cure more …” not just for the other, but also for myself.
How might my acts of compassion cure me of my condemning? Do I practice listening with empathy? Do I avoid making assumptions as to motives? Do I go the extra mile without resentment? Do I try to walk in the other person’s shoes? I admit it is quite challenging. Yet I find that when I do, then my clenched heart opens wider and I am “cured more.” And perhaps others become aware that I have changed and that gives them the freedom to become open, too.
At Catholic Charities’ Behavioral Health Services our counselors and therapists listen with deep skill and empathy, helping guide our clients who struggle with mental and emotional pain on a journey of hope, healing and wholeness. In our Family Strengthening programs, parents and children learn ways to communicate in healthy ways. And all who come through our doors are welcomed without judgment, whether arriving with a disability, or coming from jail, from living on the streets, from being in a gang, or arriving from another country with or without papers.
I invite all who want to cure more with compassion to support Catholic Charities ministry of caring for those most in need in our community.
To donate or for more information go to www.catholiccharitiesscc.org.