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Be Kind!

Patricia McCarthy, CND

The word of the slap spread faster than a wildfire. You didn’t even have to watch the Oscars to see it. It was repeatedly shown and viewed on all forms of social media. Unfortunately, violent language and behavior has become part and parcel of life, from reality to fiction to children’s cartoons.

In his book on the Stations, Fr. Dan Berrigan reflects on the Third Station in a scene from the subway. A homeless man trips and falls down the steps of the entrance. People walk by and let the police deal with it. After all, no one pushed him; he just fell. Fr. Berrigan’s words:

          “Forgive us who fall

away from tenderness

tumble down

down from our calling.”

As a society and as individuals so many of us have fallen away from tenderness. We shout obscenities to other drivers while on the road, we yell at our spouses and our kids. We are rude and ungrateful. Every once in a while, grace breaks through and we say “thank you” or “please” and even “I’m sorry.” Words of tenderness that change a whole situation.

I was sitting in a garden of a home of a Muslim family in war-ravaged Sarajevo. A woman was speaking about how hard it was to let her children go to school when it was open during the war or to see her husband go out to work every day, knowing they may not return in the evening. She told me how everyone seemed to be kinder during the four-year siege of their city. A cease fire had just been declared and peace talks underway. She wondered if things would go back to the way they were before the war, if people would resume taking each other for granted, ignoring one another, even rushing out of the house for school without saying “good-bye”.

Day after day, in ordinary lives, people need kindness and tenderness. We need to be kind and tender. It is our call as human beings and as Christians. It is how we grow to become decent people.

Holy week is upon us. It is the time when we reflect on the torture and crucifixion of Jesus and the following week on his resurrection. It is not just about Jesus; it is also about us. We are called to reflect on our “tumble down from our calling”, our times of sin and failure, our times of violence and words of hatred. We are given the opportunity to let them go into the saving grace of Jesus.

When we say truly in our hearts, in the confessional, or in person to someone we have hurt, “I am sorry”. Then we allow the resurrection of Jesus to come alive in our own lives, we allow Jesus to rise through us from his fall to new life.

Certainly, any violent act on stage or in our own lives can never be condoned. We may not be able to control other’s actions, but we can do something about our own. To remember with gratitude Jesus’ resurrection is a great thing, but to participate in it by our own redemption and resurrection from sin is the real meaning of Easter. Alleluia. He is risen and so are we.

Article first published by the Rhode Island Catholic


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