Call the Midwife has been on the television again. In this week’s episode one of the former midwives has returned to the convent as a nun. Trixie is still struggling with the bottle having told curate Tom that she isn’t good enough for him. Doctor Patrick’s struggle is with shell shock from his time in the war. He ends up in bed while his wife takes over the running of the surgery. Meanwhile Barbara, the newest midwife in the team, spots a pregnant Sylheti (Bengali) lady who cannot speak English. Barbara communicates with the lady initially through her son, but eventually tracks down a local who speaks Sylheti. When the Sylheti lady contracts diphtheria Doctor Patrick comes to the rescue, having been snapped out of his shell shock by the many good wishes, cards and gifts from his patients.
Before her encounter with diphtheria the Sylheti lady comes to the convent with a gift of homemade samosas for midwife Barbara. This gift is the only way the lady can express gratitude not just for the medical care, but also for the compassionate friendship shown by Barbara.
Compassion is a theme that runs strongly through each episode of Call the Midwife. It is evident in the attitude of the nuns, the other nursing staff, the doctor, the curate, the local police sergeant, and even Fred the handyman. The effects of compassion on its recipients are not only life-changing, they are often also life saving. If Barbara had not cared for a lonely foreigner who spoke no English, then the Sylheti lady would have died.
The Greek word used where the Bible mentions the compassion shown or described by Jesus is splagchnizomai. This is defined in Strong’s as:
“From splanxna, ‘the inward parts,’ especially the nobler entrails – the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. These gradually came to denote the seat of the affections.”
Splagchnizomai is a compassion that wells up in the innermost part of Jesus’ being. It translates into forgiveness, healing, feeding of physical and spiritual hunger, and restoration. Surely the world would be a better place if we could all simply follow the example set by Jesus. Everyone needs compassion.
Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
“Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”
Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. (Matthew 20:30-34 NIV)