11 Soon afterwards Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him.

12As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town.13When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ 14Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, rise!’ 15The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

This is not a merit story. There is no mention here of worthiness. This widow’s good works and fine character are not offered to Jesus as proof that she deserves to have her son restored. No one announces her moral life. There is not even mention that she is a woman of faith.

All we hear of in this story is the woman’s desperate need, her anguish, and the deep “compassion” with which Jesus meets her. The restoration of this “dead man” to his mother is a sovereign act of God. Worthiness is not an issue.

How often does my pinched vision of how God should work and who is or is not worthy of receiving blessing, get in the way of the free flow of love?

The Greek word translated in this story as “compassion” is splänkh-nē’-zo-mī. We do not have an adequate English translation. It means literally “to be moved in your deep internal organs”, which were believed in ancient times to be the source of love and pity. So, to have “compassion” is to be deeply moved from within to reach out to another with love.

Rigid dogmatic systems that proscribe all human behaviour according to some external standard, always get in the way of splänkh-nē’-zo-mī. When my attention is taken by some outer code of conduct to which all people are bound to conform, I lose touch with my deep inner connection with love. Compassion is the first victim.

What practices help me maintain my awareness of and sensitivity to the deep inner intuition and prompting of that love that is my true nature?