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The Importance of Kindness

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Homily for the 13th week in Ordinary Time (Year A)

The audio podcast will not be available this Sunday due to the Mission Appeal at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church

Each human being has a special dignity because each has been made in the image and likeness of God.  The baptized and the non-baptized have an equal dignity. People of all races, colors, and creeds, good and bad, have an equal dignity in the eyes of God. And all human beings carry the imprint of their creator.

Above and beyond the reality that God makes each person in his own image and likeness, the baptized are launched into an even greater dimension.  Each baptized person is divininized through the waters of baptism.  A transformation of human nature takes place and the baptized person becomes a living temple of the Holy Spirit.

Human dignity and baptism demand that we treat each person with kindness.

Whatever happened to kindness?  Whatever happened to manners?

 It’s hard to find people who habitually use words like please, thank you, good morning, excuse me, and may I.  How difficult it is to find a gentleman who will hold a door open for a lady. I am continually amazed at the casual way so many people choose to dress for church or even the way people dress to receive a priest or other guests in their homes.  The nihilism of the 1960’s has certainly caused a total loss of respect for one another.

Nevertheless, there are some beautiful examples of kindness that I hear about from time to time.  I have heard about a famous young executive in Anchorage, Alaska, who each year spends $25,000 to put on a super Christmas party for his employees and clients.  He is so selfless, that after the party, he stands by the door and delicately invites those who are from out of town to stay the night at a beautiful hotel for free.

I can remember a seminary soccer game from many years back that impressed me very much.  The score was tied.  The star soccer player on our team was ready to score the winning goal, but as he was ready to kick the ball, one of the opponents, while trying to block the play, fell on the ground.  The young man immediately stopped his kick, which would have won the game, and bent over to pick up his fallen comrade.

The burdens of life become so much easier when parishioners go out of their way to say thanks with a kind note and even offer a small donation to a parish priest.  A busy Sunday filled with many Masses, confessions and consultations is made easier when small gifts of food are found at the rectory office.

Sadly,  mentally unbalanced people are quick to complain to church authorities about the most insignificant occurrences, and the authorities abuse their position to intimidate and demoralize parish priests.

We live in a culture, where kindness is out the window.

This Sunday’s scripture selection from the Second Book of Kings illustrates that God will always reward kindness.

The gospel passage underlines this truth.

“He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.  And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (Matthew 10: 40-42).

Now that we are enjoying the summer, families are spending more time together.  School is out, families are on vacation and so there are countless opportunities to show kindness to each other.

Here are some suggestions on how we can practice kindness at home, at work, in the neighborhood, or in the parish.

  • Wake up early in the morning and prepare breakfast for the entire family. Let mom sleep in.
  • Invite and co-worker to lunch and pick-up the tab.
  • Visit a neighbor that you never talk to and have them over for a barbeque.
  • Call a relative that you haven’t spoken to for a long time.
  • Say hello to a stranger.
  • When on the highway, pay the toll for the car behind you.
  • Thank your local priests for a job well done with a kind note and a small donation for their personal needs.
  • Help your neighbor cut his lawn.
  • Take your spouse out for dinner.
  • Spend time with your children and grandchildren. Tell them how much you love them.
  • Learn how to apologize when necessary.

The Fourth of July is here.  Our nation will change if we all just stop being mean and self-centered, and practice Christian kindness.  Leaders of church communities, politicians and bosses of any enterprise need to lead by their example.

Suggested Reading – The Hidden Power of Kindness by Lawrence G. Lovasik