The Cloth of Compassion

by Ellen Mongan

Jesus walked the path of suffering alone. Almost all His friends ran away. Some betrayed Him. Some denied Him. Some just stood by and watched from afar. Few who knew Him offered a helping hand.

Then came a stranger peering from the crowd named Veronica. She knew she could not let this holy man suffer without doing something. What can I, a poor peasant girl, do, her mind questioned. Her mind raced with answers, “No, Veronica, do not get involved. He might be a criminal or maybe even a traitor to the Jewish faith. What would others think? What would happen to you if you tried to aid Him in some way?“

She paused to process her thoughts, stopping dead in her tracks. As the man passed by, her heart looked with pity upon His face. Veronica could see one drop of blood drip from the crown of His head to the middle of His cheek. Veronica noticed a tear of sadness in the stranger’s eye. Her eyes stared towards Him with pity. She wanted to cover her eyes, but somehow she could not look away.

Now her heart was throbbing. Her eyes filled with tears of compassion. Her eyes met with His. In that instant in that short glance, Veronica knew. She knew that He was not a traitor or a criminal. No not at all. She knew He was who He said He was. She knew that He would do what He said He would do. He was the Son of God who would rise from the dead.

It was the Holy Spirit Who quickened that truth to her. She knew that He was the fulfilment of the prophecy, “A virgin shall bear a son and He shall be called Son of God.“ She knew in the depth of her soul without a shadow of a doubt. He is God alone. Not only that but she knew He loved her. Veronica’s heart won out over her mind. She knew that she had to do something.

Veronica was no longer afraid, as she pushed her way thru the crowd. Stepping forward, she remembered the cloth, the family cloth, which was stuffed in her pocket. The very cloth that her mother had passed down to her. The same cloth that her grandmother had given to Veronica’s mother. This family cloth was not only an heirloom but also a symbol of compassion in Veronica’s family. This was the cloth Mama used to dry her tears when she was just a wee girl. It was the same cloth Mama handed over to Veronica last month on her wedding day. In fact, Veronica was sure that the cloth still held some of Veronica’s wedding-day tears of joy, and a smudge of her favorite lipstick too. Veronica wanted to treasure those memories forever. She could not bring herself to wash the cloth. Oh not just yet, but maybe one day, before she passes the family cloth to her little girl; that is, if she had a daughter one day.

Veronica reached way down into her pocket where she had stuffed the family cloth. It wasn’t a very big cloth in size but large enough to show Jesus she cared. Now she knew exactly what to do with it. She pulled it out just as she reached Jesus. Veronica placed a kiss upon the cloth, just like she saw her Mama do when she used it to wipe the tears off her face. Veronica tried to iron the cloth with her two hands as she stretched it out to the full extent. Then reaching up towards Jesus she began to wipe His blood covered face. She gently and carefully wiped the tears from His eyes. No words were exchanged but two hearts were joined for all eternity. It happened in an instant, in a twinkling of an eye, when His eyes meet hers and her eyes met His.

It was then that she knew. Jesus was calling her by name. Oh, it wasn’t a voice from heaven in an audible sound. No, it was knowingness in the stillness of her soul. Veronica knew that she was being called to be His disciple. Veronica would be His disciple of compassion. What is that burning in my heart, she wanted to ask? Before she even uttered a syllable, Veronica knew the answer. As she wiped the tears from Jesus’s eyes, Veronica eyes were being opened to see His face. She was touched with the grace of His love as Jesus whispered in her ear, “I love you, Veronica.“ It was at that moment that Veronica exchanged her heart of stone for His heart of love. It was as if time stood still and fast forwarded at the same instant. All of her questioning had ceased; she knew just what to do. Veronica‘s “Yes!” was the YES of surrender. It was total and complete. She now could hear with the ears of His heart. She could now see thru His eyes.

She would continue the work of compassion, laying down her life for others as Jesus did. She would follow in His footsteps. Her life was now no longer her own; she was His alone. Veronica, His willing vessel, would go where He wanted her to go. She would do what He told her to do. His death would bring her eternal life. Her life would carry His love to all she passed by. She would never forget this encounter with the living God; when His eyes met hers and her eyes met His. It was at that moment that they shared one heart; a heart for God alone.

Veronica took the cloth from her pocket once again. She was about to use it to dry her own tears, which flowed freely from both of her eyes at once. She was so overcome with emotion. As she stretched out the cloth to its full extent, she could hardly believe her eyes. Oh, but it was true, the Man of God, He had not only left an imprint on her heart but on the family cloth as well. This cloth of compassion would continue to be passed down as an heirloom in Veronica‘s family from generation, to generation. The family cloth would continue to dry tears and wash the sadness away. The family cloth would continue to be passed from mother to daughter and mother to daughter, generation after generation on their wedding day. The cloth would hold the brides’ tears and the memories of that day, as they did not want to wash those tears away.

The cloth would now pass down something more than acts of compassion. The cloth would pass down a living faith, an abiding love and a joy that will never end. You see hidden in the cloth was an imprint of a love which resides forevermore and is hidden in the soul. The cloth would always tell the story of meeting Jesus face to face. Once you encounter Him you are never the same again. The cloth would be passed down from generation to generation from mother to daughter and from mother to daughter until the end of time. The gift of compassion will always bring you face to face with God.

©Ellen Mongan

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