It can often seem as though we live in a very selfish and egotistical world, one in which people think only of themselves and rarely of others. We see this in many ways, both large and small – from the person who walks through a door without holding it open for the person behind, to the driver who doesn’t indicate at the roundabout, or the person who walks past the homeless person in the street without a thought for them. And yet, there is also a great deal of kindness taking place in the world every single day, although we may not always notice it so clearly.
One of the great models of kindness in recent times was St Teresa of Calcutta, and she had much to say on the power of kindness to touch the heart of another – “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing”. We can probably all relate to this – sometimes, a simply smile really touches us, particularly if it comes from a stranger, is looking for nothing in return, or is given to us just at the moment when we need a little kindness. She also said “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless”. How many of us can recall times when the kind word of another person changed our entire day, those words remaining with us long after they were spoken. Saint Teresa put kindness in context when she gave this advice on precisely why we need to be kind to others –
“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.”
St Teresa also reminded us that “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love”. And so, each of us has the possibility of doing good daily, in numerous small ways. We can be that person holding that door open, or smiling at another.
Earlier, a friend of mine was writing about a charity called The Biscuit Fund, who had once helped her, and she noted how she was made to feel by the kindness of the man she spoke to. I was deeply touched by what she wrote –
“Sometimes when you’re quite aware that your life is very cheap just having someone like that can really make a difference. It’s entirely through small acts of humanity that I am still here and I know I am not the only one”.
In our prayers today, may the Lord grant us the grace to be kind toward others, not counting the cost and seeking nothing back in return. And in this way, may we better reflect His own loving kindness.