13 February 2011 Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sirach 15:15-20; Psalm 119; 1 Cor 2:6-10; Matthew 5:20-37
Carlos is 52 years old. He is a recovering alcoholic and drug dependent. He has been in the streets of Mexico for 22 years. What has pushed him to leave home is resentment. As a child, his mother didn’t show any affection to him. His father, a drunkard, was violent. The streets of the city has given him peace more than his home. But it has also destroyed his life.
Anger has wrecked many relationships and fueled many to throw their lives into the pit. Listening to various stories in that sharing group in Mexico City, I realize that many, if not all of us, have been in a situation of anger. The resentments we continually carry have scenes of being insulted, bullied, betrayed or hurt. And these forms of anger show their ugly heads in situations we are unaware of. Take for example the rage in the middle of a traffic jam. Rage is not commensurate to the situation. Take another example: we flare up and lose our cool when a partner in the office forgets to clean up at the snack room. What we don’t know is that our over reaction is a cumulative effect of past angers.
Why is there so much anger around and in us? Why do we spend so much energy on rage? What if we expend these energies on kindness than on anger? Can kindness be the answer to many problems in our lives?
The Gospel today is taken from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus urges us to show kindness to one another. He even suggests to ‘turn the other cheek’ when someone treats us barbarously. Jesus, as we all know, walks his talk. He shows kindness to sinners. He is compassionate and merciful to his enemies especially on the cross.
Kindness blesses the person to whom we are kind. It even has a greater power to change us and to change others. Look back and zero in on an act of kindness you’ve shown to others. What do you feel remembering it? Focus on a friend who has shown kindness to you, what feelings do it evoke? Memories of kindness give us satisfaction. They bring a smile to our faces.
Now let us focus on the positive changes in our lives. Many of our achievements and growths have been wrought by a collective cultivation of people who cared for us. What do you think would have happened if Carlos grew up in a loving and caring home? Kindness not only brings happiness to those involved but can even work miracles in our lives. Kind words are like magic: it can make you do the things we are too lazy to do.
Furthermore, kindness is a power we all have, rich or poor. It is a resource that is at the disposal not just of a single person but also of organizations and nations. It is a supply that is unlimited.
I met Marta at the park of Indios Verdes also in Mexico City. She was homeless. She told us that she left home when her husband cheated on her. His only biological son was in a mental facility. In the park, she took care of her ‘son’ – another homeless man she met in the park. Juan, who also attended the sharing group with Carlos, had been on the streets for 34 years. He said he had been sober for 5 months. His foot, rotting from gangrene was regularly cleaned by Marta. Her kindness had helped him avoid alcohol.
Carlos and Marta are the poorest of the poor. But they discovered that they have a supply of kindness that continually overflows. What is more amazing is that the more we give of kindness, the more there is to give.
On the day before Valentines, let us focus on this one great aspect of love by asking ourselves how much kindness is present in our lives and how much of it is manifested in our relationships.