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What Type of Spectator Would You Have Been, and Are Today?

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be in the crowd when Pilate judged Jesus? Or standing along the Via Dolorosa as Jesus carried his Cross? Or at the foot of his Cross when he breathed his last breath?

What kind of spectator would you have been, and continue to be today?

Would you have been a passerby who just wanted to see what was going on?

Someone who was really interested in the outcome, even with some sympathy?

A person in deep personal pain who could empathize with what Jesus was going through?

Someone who felt a deep connection, a love and compassion that was calling you to action?

If you were present at any time during Christ's judgement, his walk to Golgotha, or his crucifixion on the Cross, what type of spectator would you have been? Your answer may say a lot about how you might respond today to God's call to help his hurting people.

Four Types of Spectators

I believe there are four types of spectators in life, especially when exposed to seeing people who are hurting and in need of help.

  1. There are those who just watch.

  2. Those who have some degree of self-interest but still just watch.

  3. Those who are in pain themselves and can relate to the hurting.

  4. Those who have an inner drive of love and compassion to act.

It's so easy in today's face-paced, media driven world to become numb to the needs of others, whether they are thousands of miles away in another country, or 10 miles down the road. But every day, we have to make decisions regarding what kind of spectator we will be.

Unfortunately, there is not "size-fits-all" answer. My guess is most of us alternate between category 1 and 2 most of the time with an occasional stop in category 3 when we are suffering in some way, finding it easier to have empathy for those who are also in pain.

Then there are those who seem to live and thrive in category 4. While they too spend time in categories 1 through 3, they are most at home giving of their mental, emotional, and spiritual resources out of unbridled love and compassion.

Why Did God make Us?

The old Baltimore Catholic Catechism asks what I think is the ultimate purpose question: "Why did God make us?" The answer given summarizes the core of biblical servanthood, the kind of servanthood that encourages us to give our mental, emotional, and spiritual resources out of unbridled love and compassion. The catechism states God created us to know him, love him, and serve him.

How do we serve God? We submit to his holy and true will, striving to be a blessing to others, especially when we realize he has comforted us. As noted in 2 Corinthians 1:4, he "comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

In conclusion, as Christians, and as human beings created by the source of all love and compassion, we are called to spend as much time as possible serving others. St. Francis of Assisi said it best in what we call the Peace Prayer. He suggests we pray that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, and to be loved as to love, for it's in giving that we receive.

In God's Words

"A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed."

(Proverbs 11:25

"If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 4:11)

"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)

Also read: Philippians 2:4. Galatians 6:2, Hebrews 13:16

In Your Words

  • Reflect on what kind of a spectator you would have been at Jesus' trial, on the Via Dolorosa, or at the foot of the Cross.

  • Review the above article and decide which type of spectator you are today. Recall experiences and the circumstances of each that confirm your decision.

  • Can you name someone you know who spends much of their time in category 4, always acting out of an inner drive of love and compassion to help those in need? Explain why you chose that person.

In the Words of Others

"What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like." St. Augustine

"The main rule to me is to honor God with your life. To life a life of integrity. Not be selfish. You know, help others. But that's really the essence of the Christian faith." Joel Osteen


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