Tag Archives: kindness

Can You Prove Your Christianity?

21 Apr

aaaaHave you ever noticed that it’s often easier to be kind to strangers when you’re angry than it is to be kind to your family?

In this Sunday’s responsorial psalm we hear that the Lord is “slow to anger and abounding in compassion,” and in the Gospel Jesus tells His disciples that they will be known by how well they love. How well we love our families, especially in anger, is proof of our Christianity!

If that’s a challenge, consider this. We don’t have to feel warm and fuzzy to be kind. In fact, often when we act kind or compassionate despite our feelings to the contrary, the feelings follow.

The next time we may feel tempted to snap at our loved ones, let’s try to think of what it would look like to respond with “abounding compassion.” This self-control will be a powerful witness to our children.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

 

Love Will Find a Way

29 Jan

nazareth-welcomeIs someone you love away from the faith? It may be your spouse, your son or daughter, or it may be an extended family member. Some couples are even rejected by their own families for being “too religious.”

If this is you, take heart in this Sunday’s readings. Jesus returns to his hometown, shares the good news of salvation, and is almost run off a cliff. This must have broken His heart! He certainly understands your pain, for nobody knows rejection like Jesus.

He also gives us an important insight: “No prophet is recognized in his native place.” If our faith is evident to our fallen-away family, it often does no good to continue to “preach” to them, which so often is perceived as “nagging.” Instead, we can take our cue from the second reading, where St. Paul prescribes the remedy to win souls for Christ through patience, kindness, and rejoicing in the truth.

This can be an examination of conscience for us in our relationships. When our loved ones come back to the faith, will they have seen our actions as resembling this kind of love? If not, what kind of practical changes can we make?

Finally, a word of encouragement in this year of mercy: “[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8). Have confidence that every act of patience, every act of kindness, every act of service, and every prayer for our family bears fruit in God’s Kingdom!

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

Catechesis on the Fifth Commandment

27 Nov

This week we come to what at first blush seems to be the most straightforward of commandments:

You shall not kill.

As a child preparing for Confession I would routinely pass over the Fifth Commandment. After all, I hadn’t killed anybody that month! I was completely missing the spirit of the commandment, and in fact I was–and still am–frequently guilty of injuring others in thought, word, and deed. I failed to see that just as the positive antidote to sexual sins is chastity, the positive antidote to sins of anger, strife, and violence is kindness–loving others as myself.

In our sexually permissive society, it is critically important to reaffirm–clearly, firmly, and sensitively–the implications of the Sixth Commandment (“you shall not commit adultery”). Yet sometimes we may act as though Moses put an asterisk next to the Sixth Commandment, as though that’s the only commandment we really need to be concerned about. The truth is that we also live in an increasingly violent world. This has everything to do with the Fifth Commandment.

For most of us, the Fifth Commandment comes into play when we become angry or frustrated, or perhaps when we’re thinking too much of ourselves and not enough of our neighbor. Our Lord gives this beautiful application of this commandment in the Sermon on the Mount:

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt. 5:21-24).

To live this commandment, we should proactively practice acts of kindness (random or otherwise!), and reactively practice acts of reconciliation (sometimes a not-so-simple “I’m sorry” will work wonders!) when we cause friction with our neighbor. Continue reading

Apostles of Kindness

12 Jul

One of my most beloved priests is Fr. Jerry. That’s not his real name. I don’t want to embarrass him, and besides, he always made a point of avoiding or deflecting this sort of praise and attention.

Whenever I would visit with Fr. Jerry, whether in the confessional, the parish hall, or the local coffee shop, he was always so focused on our conversation. I felt like I mattered, that I was the only other person in his world. And he was like that with everyone.

He made a point of knowing everyone in our large parish and called each of us by our first name. No matter what was going on in his life, he always was able to muster a smile and an encouraging word, even a simple “Leon, you’re a good man.” But he was not afraid to gently correct or admonish me when he needed to.

I mention Fr. Jerry as an example of the attractiveness and power of the virtue of kindness. Fr. Lawrence Lovasik wrote an amazing book nearly 40 years ago entitled The Hidden Power of Kindness: A Practical Handbook for Souls Who Dare to Transform the World, One Deed at a Time. This contemporary classic unpacks the fundamental role of kindness in the Christian life.

Kindness is not a mushy niceness or a wimpy brand of charity, but rather is deeply rooted in the Word of God. Kindness (or “kind” or “kindly”) appears dozens of times explicitly in Scripture, and countless other times by way of synonym or implication. Continue reading