With what certainly appears to be an escalating amount of tragedy and evil in today’s world and in our country, it certainly makes one think that the existence of goodness has become more of an exception that the rule. Unfortunately, acts of kindness remain overlooked by the media and rarely, if ever, make the evening news. While we should never seek recognition for our good works, for as Christ says, “when you do alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand does,” (Matthew 6:3), we should never underestimate the power of small acts of goodness performed with love.
In a recent homily said at Mass at the Domus Santae Martae, in the presence of employees of the Governorate of Vatican City, Pope Francis said that “Doing good is a principle that unites all humanity, beyond the diversity of ideologies and religions, and creates the culture of encounter that is the foundation of peace.” The Pope continued, “The Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in the depths of our hearts to do good and do not do evil.” In addressing those who do not believe in God, Pope Francis went on to say that, “we must meet one another in doing good. ‘But I don’t believe Father, I am an atheist.’ Even then, but do good – we will meet one another there.” The saints are also excellent examples of the power of performing acts of goodness. Saint Bonaventure, whose Feast Day will be celebrated on July 15, is known as the “Seraphic Doctor” because he revealed a certain warmth towards others as a divine fire. His leadership with the Franciscans, following St. Francis of Assisi, expressed itself by showing charity, goodwill and ardent affection towards all others.
Admittedly, in my own daily stresses and busyness, I sometimes fail to see the needs of others and respond as I should. Perhaps this is the case for you from time to time as well? So how can we become loving, good and kind more consistently in our lives? Saint Bonaventure gives us a good tip. He tells us to look carefully at the crucified Christ and ponder his wounds and the tremendous sufferings he underwent for each of us. Gradually, this ongoing practice will enable us to become more compassionate, understanding, and kind toward others, even those we consider our enemies. It will help us to truly become Christ’s extended hands in our hurting world, for when we look at the sufferings of others, we see in them the suffering Christ. It is also helpful to meditate on bible verses which guide us in the way of kindness, perhaps the most notable being Matthew 25:37-41, “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? ‘And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Amen I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
We must also realize that while we work personally to better ourselves true transformation comes with divine assistance by the power of the Holy Spirit when sought in prayer. Perhaps there was no better example of kindness in modern times than Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta who said, “Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor… 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, kindness in your warm greeting.” Similarly Saint Vincent de Paul said, “We must love our neighbor as being made in the image of God and as an object of His love.” So what does love in action look like? According to Saint Augustine of Hippo, “it has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
Therefore, never underestimate the impact of your warm smile, a kind word of support, a compassionate touch, a heartfelt compliment, a listening ear or a warm greeting. Be aware of those who might be hurting around you – perhaps the person at the check out counter, someone you work with, someone sitting next to you on a plane. Why? Doing good is powerful! It has a ripple effect. It directly counteracts the evil of our times. It has the power to transform hearts, minds and souls. It transforms and uplifts ourselves and others – making extraordinary things happen. Above all it is pleasing to God for as Saint Faustina says, “Pure love … knows that only one thing is needed to please God: to do even the smallest things out of great love – love, and always love,” – Divine Mercy in My Soul.
So throughout each day let us look for opportunities to do good. If ever the world has need of massive amounts of good deeds – it is now!
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