My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
"AND BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER…" (Ephesians 4:32).
One of the most poignant and stark examples of kindness is the Parable of the Good Samaritan told by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and illustrates Jesus’ teaching of who our "neighbor" is: anyone in immediate need, including our enemy. The Good Samaritan symbolically is our Savior Jesus Christ Himself and the wounded man is humanity attacked by demonic forces, and the inn is the Holy Church. True love for neighbor is love for our All-Loving God. Saint Paul reminds us that "Love suffers and is kind, love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seeks its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil…love never fails…" (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Kindness is the fruit of pure love. A kind person is one who is gentle and sweet with those who are hurt and in pain. A kind person is one who instinctively responds to a fellow human being suffering and through his/her love, compassion, and tenderness brings healing to the one injured. Kindness knows no boundaries, no nationality, no culture, no language, and yes, no race. Kindness is impartial and free of all prejudice. Our Creator God created humans to always reflect in our lives His unconditional agape and kindness to one another.
"… Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You? Then He will answer them saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, INASMUCH AS YOU DID NOT DO IT TO ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE, YOU DID NOT DO IT TO ME…" (Matthew 25:44-45). "THE LEAST OF THESE" refers to all those people who are in agony and who are suffering. Anyone who shows kindness and compassion to his/her neighbor does it also to the Lord Himself.
When our Holy Orthodox Church speaks of "good works" she speaks about works of philanthropy or charity. The holy Apostle James writes, "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but doe snot have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also FAITH BY ITSELF, IF IT DOES NOT HAVE WORKS, IS DEAD" (James 2:14-17).
The world in which we all live is in need of greater kindness. Kindness is essential to a more perfect human being. Cruelty and a hateful disposition are not a part of the human who possesses the image of God. Writing to the Galatians Saint Paul says, "But the fruit of the Spirit IS LOVE, JOY, PEACE, LONGSUFFERING, KINDNESSS (Gk. Χρηστότης), GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL" (Galatians 5:22). Again Saint Paul writings to the Colossians 3:12, says, "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, KINDNESS (ΧΡΗΣΤΟΤΗΤΑ=ΚΑΛΩΣΥΝΗΝ), HUMILITY, MEEKNESS, LONGSUFFERING; BEARING ONE ANOTHER, IF ANYONE HAS A COMPLAINT AGAINST ANOTHER, EVEN AS CHRIST FORGAVE YOU, SO YOU ALSO MUST DO."
We, Orthodox Christians, believe that the Almighty God and Creator is most kind, most generous, most forgiving, so too, His followers are called to emulate His Divine and Good example and practice kindess, compassions, gentelness, and come to the aid of our fellow man. According to Saint Isaac the Syrian, "In God there is no hatred towards anyone, but all embracing love which does not distinguish between righteous and sinner, between a friend of truth and an enemy of truth, between Angel and demon. Every created thing is precious in the sight of God/"
It is necessary, however, to comprehend that kindness does not mean ignoring the sins of others, it means praying for them and forgiving them. Furthermore, a kind person should attempt to help the one who has lost his/her way with patience, gentleness, and compassion. Even when one has self-inflicted these spiritual injuries to himself/herself needs time to regain their perspective and realize his/her own mistakes and to rectify them himself through prayer and seeking guidance from the Master Himself. Let us not forget that "we are members one of another… forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:26-32).
Another noble example of kindness is revealed in the life of Saint Agathon who lived in the 4th century. One day the Saint had to travel from the desert to the flour mill to grind his wheat, which was hard work. He loaded his sack of wheat on his shoulders and went to the mill. The moment Saint Agathon was prepared to spread his wheat, another traveler arrived and pleaded with him to let him go first because he was in a hurry. The Saint answered, "happily," and he even offored to assist the man to mill his wheat. They finished the grinding and the man got his flour and departed. As soon as Agathon was about to unload his wheat to grind, another man came and the same thing happened over again. Then two more came along asking him for the same thing. Night came, and Saint Agathon was still unable to grind his wheat. He put it on his shoulders and returned to his monastery.
Saint Agathon a most virtuous monk set an example of Christian kindness (Gk. Καλωσύνη, Χρηστότητα). This God-like goodness or kindness is needed today and would be of greater benefit and more fruitful than anything else. All Saints throughout time possess the same spirit of kindness and selflessness. By reading the Lives of the Saints one can see clearly their generosity, their meekness, they humility, their kenosis and sacrifice for the good of others. It is imperative that we keep focus on their holy lives and be inspired by their virtuous example.
In recent days I have heard of "random acts of kindness" performed by complete strangers in one form or another which is edifying and welcomed. When kindness is practiced randomely and not pre-planned by us, it is more authentic, more sincere and its value is much greater. I have been a recipient of a random kindness as a child and I know how wonderful it is.
Long, long ago, in Athens Greece my father and sister Ioanna and i arrived late in the afternoon from our village, tired, hungry, and cold from our long trip. Everything in the city was closed except for a small caffenion that was still open with only one customer left. This took place after the civil war came to end in 1948. The country was devasted and there were no place for us to spend the night. We went in the caffenio to get out of the cold and for my father to think of what to do next. The last customer and stranger that was there came over to my father and said to him: "I see that you and the children are from the country do you have a place to stay tonight?" My father answered the man that we did not. The man said "you will come with me to my house and you may stay with us until you are well situated and have a place to stay. " This was a true random act of kindness which even after many decades I have not forgotten and never will.
These kind of acts of kindness are very important and touch deeply the soul of the one hurting and those in despair. They are not only good for our own salvation, but they are necessary manifestations of God’s χρηστοτητα και αγάπη for all of mankind. None of us should ever stop expressing kindness to the countless people who need to be loved and comforted. We must continue to act as God’s instrument of kindness, love, mercy, compassion, goodness and hope for as long as we live. The world cannot exist without God’s help and without man’s care for one another. There are many opportunities for one to make a real difference in the life of someone and to save him or her.
Isn’t the life of our Lord Jesus Christ one of love, kindness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, sacrifice and healing? The question of whether one ‘deserves’ kindness is never asked. We definitely know that none of us are worthy of all that the Almighty God had and continues to do for us. The Son of God gave His life so that we may be saved not because we ‘deserved’ it but out of His unconditional love to save us from sin and death. "For His mercy rules over us and the truth of the Lord endures forever" (Psalm 117:2). God’s mercy "rules over" those who walk by faith and His Truth is the subastance of faith that "endures forever" in them.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father Geoge