How are your empathy levels this morning? I’m kidding. We are all tired, but I hope you feel renewed by the experience you had at this retreat.
We reflected on what it means to build our empathy. Building empathy begins with our curiosity. Imagination enriches our empathy. Love completes empathy. Last night, we had a chance to practice our listening, sharing, and praying with each other.
Remember what you’ve learned and experienced. Don’t stop building empathy. Don’t stop caring. Ot is so easy to forget after we go back home. It is so easy to drift into our old ways and habits. That’s why I worry about you guys sometimes. I probably won’t see some of you until the summer. I pray that you will continue walking this journey toward becoming a more empathetic person.
So this morning, I want to share with you how we can continue this journey of growing in empathy in our own life. It’s very simple. It boils down to one word. It sums up all that we’ve learned at this retreat.
PRESENCE. Be fully present, wherever you are or whoever you are with. Be present for others.
You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to say anything. You don’t have to give anything. Just BE THERE. That will be enough. Your presence alone will bless those around you.
Once, there was a gate called Beautiful. It was in front of a temple where people worshipped. At the gate sat a man with a disability. He had to be physically carried there every day. His life depended on how much those worshipping at the temple gave him. People often passed him by, as if he was invisible. No one seemed to care. Ironically, the place was anything but ‘beautiful’.
One day, the man saw Peter and John walking into the temple. He asked them for money. Neither Peter nor John gave him what he asked for.
Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.Acts 3:3-7
Peter gave the crippled man something he had never received. Peter gave him his attention. Peter looked at him like no one looked at him before. Peter cared for the crippled man as Jesus would’ve done. Peter’s presence was enough to help the man up to his feet. It empowered him to walk again. It gave him back his confidence and self-esteem. It restored the meaning of the gate itself.
When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.Acts 3:9, 10
You are called to be the presence of Christ. You may feel like you don’t have much to give. You may feel like you are not enough. You are enough. That is what God wants.
Through your presence, God will bring healing to others. Through your presence, God will empower others and raise them up. Through your presence, God will bring beauty and warmth in people’s lives. We are all called to the ministry of PRESENCE. Ministry that brings empathy into a world of apathy.
I thank our counsellors for being here. They have been wonderful at this retreat. When we had a meeting before the retreat, I told them: “Don’t feel like you have to ‘do’ something. Just be there for the students. That will be enough.”
You can do the same for each other. Even after we go back, be an empathetic presence for those around you. When you see each other, acknowledge each other. Look each other in the eye. One look of love can empower someone else. You can’t buy that. Let the other person know that you see them. Let them know that you care about them. Make them feel important. It’s the small things that make a great difference. Let us be an empathetic community.