Acts 435 Giving to anyone who has need

The celebrated Catholic writer Henri Nouwen wrote a small book entitled 'Compassion' and after deep reflection on God and on how we can live in community together, he ends by focusing on Compassionate Action. "If prayer leads us into a deeper unity with the compassionate Christ, it will always give rise to concrete acts of service" he tells us. Conversely, "if concrete acts of service do indeed lead us to a deeper solidarity with the poor, the hungry, the sick, the dying, and the oppressed, they will always give rise to prayer".

We must ask ourselves where our motives come for the acts we do. God is gracious and compassionate to us. From there flows a desire to show compassion to others. When we count our blessings and realise that we haven't earned them, but simply been gifted them, we can better respond to those in less favourable circumstances.

Nouwen talks of a deeper solidarity. I have no doubt that people across the world can quickly testify to that. When we walk alongside those in need, we connect with them in a way never before experienced. That will in turn mean we better know how to respond to their needs and do what is most helpful.

The hungry, the sick no longer just become a category of people, but they are Jayne from next door who is redundant and struggling to pay her mortgage and bills with enough left for food, or Clive from church who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Can I buy a few things for Jayne when I go to Tesco later today and pop in to see Clive and offer to read to him and give his wife a bit of a break? Suddenly we realise we can do something to help.