From the Director
Recently Pope Francis said, “Kindness frees us from the cruelty that at times infects human relationships, from the anxiety that prevents us from thinking of others, from the frantic flurry of activity that forgets that others also have a right to be happy.” Wow! Three or four good effects from one simple loving habit!
Recently I came across something I had been given many years (decades!) ago. It is a copy of a letter to a priest attributed to Mother Teresa. I decided to try to find out if it was authentic and went searching on the internet. I did not find that particular letter, but I found that she certainly did a lot of writing! And the letter that I had was in her writing style. Mother Teresa had a unique style that was at once simple and powerful. “look around and see – there are so many in the world who are lonely, unwanted, who have no one to call their own – maybe in our own home.” She encourages her correspondent to “be the sunshine of God’s love to your own – for this is where our love for each other must start.”
I must agree with her and with the Pope. I think the first step is to notice the problems facing those around us. If we start noticing others’ suffering and trying to respond to it, we will not ever be strangers to the concept of kenosis. It is the Greek word for self-relinquishing. It is used in theology to describe that self-emptying that Jesus did by living among us. “But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men.”
There are many signs that we are on the right track: joy, peace, hope.
If we are to be imitators of Christ and the saints, emptying ourselves in service of others has to be part of our vocation as Christians. And the daily effort to understand and help heal others’ hurts should be a foundation stone of our approach to the spiritual life.
There are many signs that we are on the right track: joy, peace, hope. Are we able to face life’s large and small injustices and not lose hope? Do we have hope in enough abundance that we can share it with the young, with the materially poor, the lonely, despairing old? If our kindness is not superficial but rather comes from a spirit of that depth, then wherever we live our lives, we are living out the mystery of Jesus’ mission.
The theme of this issue of Columban Mission appears to me to be “acting with kindness.” If we take the Christian life seriously, we know that what Jesus taught and that everything Jesus did encourages and indeed challenges us His followers to “go and do likewise.”