Acts of Kindness

The theme for this year’s Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins today, is Acts of Kindness. It was set by the people of Malta, who famously treated the shipwrecked Paul with exemplary kindness. As I mentioned in my post of 16 January, there are a range of resources that can be downloaded from Churches Together. I don’t want to duplicate anything said there, but I think it is always helpful to ask ourselves what we mean by being kind, really kind. Too often we seem to limit it to not deliberately giving pain, rather like Newman’s definition of a gentleman, but the word itself should provide a clue, particularly if we look at its origins. To be kind is to recognize kinship with another, to be of the same lineage, the same family. We don’t often use the word in that sense these days, but perhaps we should. To acknowledge our common humanity and the unity we already have by virtue of our baptism into Christ is, for Christians, an excellent starting-point for what we are about this week. Random acts of kindness may be popular in some circles, but there is nothing random about those practised by Jesus’ disciples. We are his Body; we have a purpose, and He is with us always until it is fulfilled.

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1 thought on “Acts of Kindness”

  1. So many resonances for me here. I’m half Maltese, and when I visit my (numerous) family members there I usually stay with a cousin just by St.Paul’s Bay. Working for Christian unity is very real for me as I sing with an Anglican church choir at their monthly Choral Mass (yes, Mass – if anything they’re more High Church than we are at my Catholic parish church across the road) and each time I do so I have the painful experience of not being able to take Communion alongside fellow Christians who received me very kindly from the start and with whom I feel real kinship of just the kind described above. As Pope Francis has said, part of Our Lord’s purpose for us, individually and collectively, is precisely to overcome such divisions. How much would THAT boost our efforts to reach out in kind-ness to the rest of our world?

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