Daily Meditations: ‘The Bug Letter’ – Mark 5:21ff
A man was on a business trip and stayed at one of the better hotels. But there was a problem with bugs. He complained about the bugs to the management, and later received a letter of response to his complaint.
The letter was even signed by the president of the hotel chain. It read, in part, “We are humiliated that a man of your integrity, a man of your reputation, a man of your importance in the community should have had this experience in one of our hotels.”
This made the man feel that they really cared about his bad experience, until he was folding the letter to put it away and a small piece of paper fell out that read, “send this guy the ‘bug letter.'” All he received was a “form letter,” probably sent to many others.
I am afraid that sometimes we, too, give people “the bug letter.” There are people we know that are having a difficult time and we ask them, “How are you?” But do we really take the time to realize how difficult life must be for them?
In Mark’s Gospel, we are told that Jesus had compassion on the people who were hurting. The word “chesed” is used — the idea of empathy is included, not just sympathy, but empathy. Sympathy is simply feeling sorry for another person. Empathy is the experience of identifying with the other person’s situation, of becoming a part of it, of literally feeling it.
Once we have empathy for a person, then we do what we can to help them.
Otherwise we are simply sending them “The Bug Letter.”