If you study the life of Christ very closely, you will find that his teachings were divided into two parts. One was sound theology, the other was sound psychology. The sound theology is in the beautiful stories that He illustrated during His life. The story of the prodigal son who had ruined his share of the family inheritance and came back repentant and asking forgiveness. That story theology reminds us of the forgiveness that God has for each one of us no matter what we have done. If you take the story of the woman taken in adultery, you might recall this is a woman who is to be put to death by stoning and often times had an adulterous relationship with the men who were about to stone her to death is another good example of a theological story. Christ entered her life and with a degree of compassion simply separated the woman from these men, said "your sins are forgiven, now go in peace". If you study the life of the good thief and the man who had robbed, the man who had stolen, the man who was next to Christ on the cross, he saw in Christ something unique and he looked at Christ and said, "Lord, I am a sinner, remember me when you come into your kingdom". Jesus Christ gave him the divine guarantee of forgiveness when He said, "This day you shall be with me in paradise".
That was all part of the theology of Christ as seen in many stories pertaining to Christ. The psychology of Christ comes in may of the sermons He gave, the lectures He gave and the group sessions that He conducted. He was always telling everyone, if you are angry with your brother, before you come to the alter to leave your gifts, go first and be reconciled with your brother. In other words, there is no life worth while if someone has an angry unforgiving frame of mind. When you look at the great teachers who studied the life and words of Christ, many of them singled out the fact that anyone who has a habit of committing sins of the tongue that hurt a character that ruin a reputation, that assassinates a family name that person is not living a Christ-like life.
If you study many of the psychology journals of today, we can all see glaring examples of physical abuse, children abused by parents who use sticks or belts or slap children around, that is bad enough. One of the worse sins committed against children is committed by parents who think that sins of their tongues do no damage. When you see all the children that we see throughout our priesthood who have no sense of self esteem who are physically abused by a parental sin of the tongue, when you recognize that they carry these psychological wounds all throughout their lives, it is a reminder to all of us of what we were taught years ago: if you cannot say something good about a person, then do not say anything at all. All of us can legitimately claim that there is a lot of stress and tension in everyone's life. But each one of us has an obligation to alter our attitude in a way that makes it our character more Christ like to others. Anyone can be negative, anyone can be finding things to criticize in another, but we have an obligation as Catholics to not only be civil toward each other, but to be compassionate toward each other. Compassion reminds us that other people are living under stressful conditions and conditions filled with tension. They do not need your criticism. But they can be helped by your compassion.
Mother Teresa had a wonderful line about compassion. She said, when you want to imitate the theology and psychology of Christ, there is no greater virtue that you can exercise than that of compassion. Compassion helps you to reach out to others and helps you develop the attitude that each one of us has an obligation to do small things with great love.
She said, Jesus Christ showed compassion to the prodigal son, the woman taken in adultery and the good thief. If you want to be Christ like she said, the stories and words of Christ have to be continually operating in your daily life. If we keep in mind that compassion is love at work in a crisis, and we spread that compassion to others, then we are living the life that Christ wanted us to live 2,000 years ago.
Jesus is able to forgive so much
because He loves so much.
Great love can forgive great sin.
As it is for Jesus
so it must be for us -
if we really want to forgive
we must really love.
- Mother Theresa
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