The Kin of Christ

Part 11

 

(Kindness)


      God is love. (1 John 4:8) Love is kind. (1 Cor. 13:4) One does not need a Ph.D. in logic to deduce from these two Scripture verses that the God who is Love Is the God who is kind. His Incarnate Son confirms this when He says of His heavenly Father: He is kind. (Luke 6:35) But our Lord's affirmation of His Father's KINDNESS takes us far beyond the boundaries of mere politeness or superficial civility: He is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Even a little self-knowledge obliges us to admit that some of our most memorable experiences of God's KINDNESS occurred precisely when we were ungrateful and selfish.


The liturgy of the Church describes this divine KINDNESS in no uncertain terms. God, in the abundance of His KINDNESS, surpasses the merits and the desires of those who entreat Him. (Collect, 27th Sunday per annum) He answers our prayers with unceasing KINDNESS. (Collect, 18th Sunday) His KINDNESS bestows healing remedies (Collect, 34th Sunday)


Is it any wonder, then, that when urging the first Christians to be imitators of God as His beloved children, St. Paul specifically exhorts them to be kind to one another? (cf. Eph. 5:1; 4:32) KINDNESS is a "family virtue," and it enables us to increasingly resemble the kind God who created us, saved us and sustains us.


With the Incarnation of His Son, the KINDNESS of the Lord filled the earth in an entirely new way. The divine KINDNESS was so close that it could be touched and seen. How good it is for us to contemplate the closeness which Jesus shows to everyone! Pope Francis writes. If He speaks to someone, He looks into their eyes with deep love and concern:, "Jesus, looking upon him, loved him." We see how accessible Jesus is, as He draws near the blind man and eats and drinks with sinners without worrying about being thought a glutton and a drunkard Himself. We see His sensitivity in allowing a sinful women to anoint His feet and in receiving Nicodemus by night. (THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL, 269)


Centuries before his papal namesake shared his reflections on the kind Christ, St. Francis of Assisi allowed his heart to be penetrated with the enduring fruit of the Holy Spirit which is KINDNESS. Looking back on his early life, Francis could readily admit that he was among the ungrateful and selfish on whom the heavenly Father lavished His KINDNESS. With the call to live the Gospel without gloss there came to Francis a deeper awareness of the great evangelical truth: God is our Father, and Josue, our Lord and Brother. To be an adopted son of such a Father impelled him to become more and more like his Brother Jesus. And for Francis, the key to Christ-likeness was KINDNESS.

 

People could see it in the Little Poor Man's eyes. They could hear it in his words. They could sense it in his sensitive listening to their problems, in his ardent exhortations to love God, in his willingness to give (quite literally) even the tunic on his back to help fulfill their needs. Yes, Francis was truly filled with JESUS... and thus, quite logically, he was also full of KINDNESS.


The KINDNESS of Christ, the KINDNESS of Francis is well within our reach, too. Each day holds multiple opportunities to distinguish ourselves as the "kin of Christ" simply by being KIND to those around us. Then we become living affirmations of how truly beautiful is a day touched by the KINDNESS of our God!



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