Bernard of Clairvaux on sympathising with the miseries of others

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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
... A man who does not live in harmony with his brothers, who mocks at those who weep and sneers at those who are glad, has no sympathy with them because their feelings do not affect him, he can never really see the truth in others. The proverb fits him well: the sound man feels not the sick man’s pains, nor the well-fed man the pangs of the hungry. It is fellow-sufferers that readily feel compassion for the sick and the hungry. For just as pure truth is seen only by the pure of heart, so also a brother’s miseries are truly experienced only by one who has misery in his own heart. You will never have real mercy for the failings of another until you know and realize that you have the same failings in your soul.

Our Savior has given us the example. He willed to suffer so that he might know compassion; to learn mercy he shared our misery. It is written: “He learned obedience from the things he suffered;” and he learned mercy in the same way. I do not mean that he did not know how to be merciful before; his mercy is from eternity to eternity; but what in his divine nature he knows from all eternity he learned by experience in time. ...

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