Pursuing Empathy and Friendship

by Mark Votava

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Many times in my life I find it hard to practice empathy and sometimes I have forgotten how to be a friend.  I am learning how to empathize with others needs and feelings.  It is difficult to seek to understand others when I think I am not in the mood, but I am coming to practice this more over time.  This has been challenging for me as I am learning what friendship means.

  •  Pursuing a sense of empathy and understanding

We need to pursue a sense of empathy, understanding, comfort and friendship with others.  This is the call of the communal imagination.

  •  Do we care about each other?

Do we like each other?  Do we want to know each other?  Do we care about each other?  Do we share any aspect of our lives together?

  •  Living into our questions

These are the questions that the body of Christ must live into together in the parish.  God has comforted us and so we should comfort others with our friendship and empathy. There is no greater gift we can give to someone.  This stems from love and grace. Relational revelation all around us awaits to be discovered.

  •  Being friends with those who are seemingly “different” from us

We need the communal imagination if we are to be friends with those who are seemingly “different” from us.  We need to seek to understand others constantly.  This is how the gift of friendship is cultivated within the parish.

  •  Our imaginations need to be alive

Our imaginations need to be alive if we are to be in relationship with each other.  We will fall apart without imagination leading us on.  Our lives are full of differences and we cannot run from our connection to one another.

  • Empathy and friendship are gifts that hold us together

The imagination is inspired by grace.  Empathy and friendship are gifts that hold us together as being a part of the human race.  The body of Christ needs some relational empathy and friendship to survive in our local context.  We need this grace to show respect to others in all their diversity and uniqueness.

  • It is by imagination that we cross over differences

Wendell Berry, a long-time advocate of local community in North America, says, “It is by imagination that we cross over the differences between ourselves and other beings and thus learn compassion, forbearance, mercy, forgiveness, sympathy, and love …”

  • The equality of friendship

Where there is equality and empathy, there is friendship.  We treat our friends with respect.  We value our friends.  We show grace to our friends.  We love our friends.

  • The communal imagination has empathy for others

We need to befriend others who are seemingly “different” from us.  We need to pursue friendships with others who don’t like us very much.  The communal imagination has empathy for others.  We need to have empathy together as the body of Christ in the parish.

How can we seek to understand others and pursue friendship?

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