"Our Lord does not want sin.
But on the other hand, what kindness!"
I think this is at least the second post on kindness not being the same as love, that Monsignor Pope has published. Evidently people are really, really confused about the subject. Being kind to one another is somehow a problem?
I wanted to leave a comment on Monsignor's post but there were a few hoops to get through and evidently I took too long filling things in and my comment was rejected. All I wanted to say was this:
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” - St. Teresa of CalcuttaI am not aware of people abusing the virtue of charity by being kind. I'm not sure Christians are all that confused about the virtue of charity and the common courtesy of kindness towards others. M. Teresa said, Be the living example of God's kindness. What is so difficult to understand? Monsignor Pope tries to explain:
The good eclipses the best. Herein lies the danger in reducing love to kindness: In simply seeking to alleviate the suffering of the moment or to give people what they want, many deeper issues go unresolved and can even be worsened.
Welfare has engendered a slavish dependence in some people in our country—and it is not just the urban poor to whom I refer. There are many other entitlements that some feel they cannot do without. There are numerous corporate subsidies as well that fall into this category. Kindness in not the same as love
"I prefer you to make mistakes in kindness than to work a miracle in unkindness," - Mother Teresa
I met a Missionary Of Charity once who explained to someone that 'charity has no strings' - if someone asks you for something, give it, without questioning. Be kind in the moment. There is nothing wrong with being kind to one another. I think a lot of Christians and especially Catholics think you have to preface everything with 'your life is in the toilet, go to confession, then we'll talk.' They are suspicious of Franciscan 'mercy'. Going out to the peripheries without a catechism to bang over someone's head.
When considering God's kindness, I so often think of the saints, especially dedicated priest-confessors like the humble Capuchin, St. Leopold Mandic. I came across something from the 'Smiling Pope' who exemplified kindness toward all. Pope John Paul I knew St. Leopold, and wrote about him. What a tribute to God's kindness!
Like Jesus the Redeemer
On one hand, Jesus fights against sin as a “victim of expiation for sins,” on the other hand, he does not fight with, but meets with sinners. Open the pages of the Gospel: he fights against sin, says John the Baptist: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away sins.” Read St. Paul: “He died for our sins.” Listen carefully to the words of Jesus in the Mass: “The Cup of My blood, poured out in remission of sins.” No sins! Our Lord does not want sin. But on the other hand, what kindness! How much mercy toward sinners! I am moved when I think that yes, Paul VI beatified Fr. Leopold, but the first person canonized, the first man proclaimed a saint before the whole people, was a thief. On the cross Jesus said: “This very day you will be with me in paradise.” To a thief! And what kindness, as I said, to sinners! When they brought the adulterous woman to him: “Woman, has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir.” “Woman, neither do I condemn you. Go in peace and try not to do it again.” The good shepherd said clearly: go in search of the lost sheep. “There is greater rejoicing in heaven over one penitent sheep in Paradise than for ninety-nine just ones who have no need to repent!” - Papa Luciani
Let the priests and the theologians and their students debate such things as the difference between kindness and love, or let others repeat the old and very stupid maxim: 'Jesus was not nice.' Leave God's judgement to God, and be kind to one another. St. Paul urged as much in Ephesians: "And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ."
I do recognize Monsignor's concern, how misplaced kindness leads to such things as alleviating the suffering and pain of patients in and through euthanasia, and so on. Of course we distinguish authentic love and kindness in such situations. I'm not disputing that at all, it's just that sometimes - oftentimes - especially online, Catholics are most unkind. And they want you to know how much they hate the sin, but love the sinner, and they are not afraid to beat up those who call them out for their self-righteous invective and contempt for those who disagree with them. They have the law and the prophets on their side and they are willing to call down fire from heaven to prove it. Or worse, contemptuously cite examples and sayings from Pope Francis which 'scandalize' them.
That said, I'd like to share something Pope John Paul I wrote about St. Leopold's devotion and fidelity to the Pope.
[St. Leopold] had great respect and especially for the Pope. One time he said: “Peter has spoken, that’s it; everything is settled.” And his brothers say that he never named the Pope without lifting his skullcap as a sign of respect. And these are the saints, these are the examples to imitate. I cannot say to you who are in the world: “Hear confessions like he did.” But I will try to hear your confession. If you were priests, I would say: “Hear confessions with greater zeal, with greater patience. Then there are priests who do not believe so much in confession and say, “It’s enough for you to come once or twice a year!” What are they doing! Without frequent confessions, how can we become good? We always have faults and we must always be purified. Do mothers change their babies every two or three days? And the soul is like that too: not once or twice a year, but confess often if you can.
And then the Pope and then the Church, whom the saints loved; they were humble. Today on the other hand, people say: “Oh! The Pope!” No. If you are Catholic you must be with the Pope as Blessed Leopold was, as all the great saints were. The Pope is the representative of Christ. Anyone who feels with the Church, who feels with the saints, who feels with blessed Leopold, must feel with the Pope. - Papa Luciani
If Papa Luciani would have lived, I am sure he would have faced the same opposition of sinners Pope Francis faces - he was just too kind and merciful to be believed at the time - but we are all sinners, in need of God's kindness and merciful love.
Lord Jesus, Son of God, be merciful to me, a sinner. Grant me your love, your kindness, and make reparation in me for all I have hurt throughout my life.
S. Leopold Mandic,
pray for us.