If in PT61 we saw how to behave towards the “oppressor”, now we must think rather of the “oppressed”.
Compassion is a good translation of the Greek noun SPLANCHNA, and to learn of its meaning we might well look to the composition of the Earth. The Earth is composed of three separate layers, the Crust, the Mantle, and the Core. The Crust is that part on which we dwell, and of which we have sentient knowledge. The Mantle is deeper, and the Core is central. So also we have three areas of knowledge and feelings, that which is Mental, (the Crust) the Mind, which absorbs information from eyes, ears, touch, taste and smell. Deeper than this is the Heart, which has more to do with Feelings. But deepest of all there is a region of the anatomy which the AV calls the “bowels”, but might better be translated “belly”. This is the splanchnal region, and is where the deepest feelings arise. Heart-felt feelings are good, and we recognise these in everyday life, but splanchnal feelings arise from that lower region, and occur when we are touched very deeply by something, and feel compassionately.
“And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place.”
“But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.”
“But when Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”
“Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.”
The Good Samaritan had compassion on the wounded man, but the Priest and the Levite passed by on the other side. The Father had compassion on his prodigal son, but the older son showed no joy for his brother’s return. The master had compassion on the servant who owed an enormous debt, but the servant showed no compassion on his fellow-servant. So it seems that we can lock up oursplanchnal regions, and prevent them from acting with compassionate mercy towards the injured, the bereaved, the penitent, the oppressed, in fact all those who are in need of our deepest feelings.
May we take care to keep open our splanchna, that we may be like our heavenly Father, and have great compassion on all who come our way and are in need.
References. 2 Chron.36:15, Psalm 86:15, Matt.9:36, Matt.18:27-33, Mark 1:41, 1 Peter 3:8, Luke 10:33, Luke 15:20.