The Authority of Compassion
by Father Henri Nouwen
The Church often wounds us deeply. People with religious authority often
wound us by their words, attitudes, and demands.
Precisely because our
religion brings us in touch with the questions of life and death, our
religious sensibilities can get hurt most easily. Ministers and priests
seldom fully realize how a critical remark, a gesture of rejection, or an act of impatience can be remembered for life by those to whom it is directed.
There is such an enormous hunger for meaning in life, for comfort and
consolation, for forgiveness and reconciliation, for restoration and
healing, that anyone who has any authority in the Church should
constantly be reminded that the best word to characterize religious
authority is compassion. Let's keep looking at Jesus whose authority
was expressed in compassion.