Relentless Compassion

Fredrik Raddum’s sculpture, “Passage,” is a powerful visual narrative that speaks volumes about the struggles of compassion and human effort. In this work, a small bird is depicted trying to carry the much larger, heavier, powerless, helpless, and lifeless body of a migrant. The sculpture encapsulates the daunting challenge the bird faces; it is an almost impossible task, one that demands extraordinary strength and determination. The bird, despite its size and apparent fragility, persists in its efforts, likely tired and exhausted beyond measure. It could easily have come up with countless excuses and reasons to abandon its endeavor—to give up and leave the migrant to his fate. Yet, it does not. This small bird’s dedication is crucial for the survival of the migrant, emphasizing the profound impact of even the smallest acts of compassion. Despite all its struggles, the sculpture shows that all the bird manages to do is lift the migrant’s body just a little bit, maybe carrying him an inch or so. 

In Matthew 14:13-14, we see Jesus embodying the essence of selfless compassion. Jesus had just learned about the death of John the Baptist, a profound loss that deeply affected him. Seeking solace and time to grieve, he withdrew to a solitary place. This desire for solitude is something many of us can relate to; in times of personal pain and loss, the instinct to retreat and process our emotions alone is strong. However, the crowds followed him, desperate for his presence and healing touch. Despite his own grief and need for space, Jesus did not turn them away. Instead, he looked upon them with compassion and healed their sick.

In life, it often feels overwhelmingly difficult to embody compassion, love, forgiveness, and acceptance, and to live out our faith. The struggles and demands of daily existence can drain us, leaving us feeling devoid of the energy, capacity, or resources to make a meaningful impact. Our own plans, hopes, and griefs can seem to clash with the needs around us, creating a sense of helplessness. We may find ourselves exhausted, unable to muster the strength to extend a helping hand or a forgiving heart. The weight of our own burdens can obscure our ability to connect with the struggles of others, making it challenging to live out the tenets of our faith. In these moments, the act of showing compassion or offering support can feel like an insurmountable task.

When we consider Fredrik Raddum’s sculpture alongside the gospel story from Matthew 14:13-14, we find an encouraging and profound message. The small bird, despite its exhaustion and seemingly insurmountable task, persists in its effort to lift and carry the lifeless migrant, mirroring the relentless compassion of Jesus who, even in his own grief, continues to heal and help those in need. Yes, we often feel like that bird, overwhelmed and ready to give up, questioning why the burden falls on us and why others can’t share in the task. We may feel the weight of the world, grappling with countless reasons to abandon our efforts to love, forgive, and carry the heavy burdens of others. Yet, isn’t this persistent effort the true essence of love, compassion, and faith? The message here is clear: if we do not give up, if we continue to bear the weight of our cross, the gospel assures us that through God’s help, our efforts, no matter how small, can lead others to healing and salvation. This is the real and profound way to live our faith.


  1. Reply
    Sossi Derian says:

    Very special and strengthening. Thank you.

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