“Those who are just must be kind…” Throughout the Sacred Scripture we are reminded that God is both just and merciful. When we consider the justice and mercy of God we might tend to think of them as two polar opposites. In justice God condemns but in mercy he saves. Many think of a just God as a vengeful God who is full of wrath and a merciful God as a forgiving God who is filled with love. Of course, everyone is hoping that God is in a merciful and loving mood when they encounter him in the final judgment but we have good reason to believe, because of our sinfulness, that we will encounter God’s justice which will expose us to his wrath. Marcion, in the early days of the Church, portrayed the Old Testament God as a God of justice and wrath, exacting punishment and the New Testament God as a God of mercy and love, ready to forgive. He could not reconcile the two and so he taught that the God of Israel was different than the Christian God that Jesus revealed as loving Father and he pretty much tore the Old Testament out of his bible and only preserved the Gospel of love as Sacred Scripture. This was understandably condemned as a heresy. Properly understood, the perfection of justice in God’s judgment is revealed as mercy and the depth of mercy revealed in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross fulfills the demands of justice. In Jesus, truly God’s justice and mercy have kissed and become one.
Those who are called to be just are often those who are called upon to exercise power. Justice is often exercised in judgment and demands recompense and exacts punishment. We have a tendency to associate justice with power. Those who are powerful can demand justice. Conversely, we tend to associate mercy with a kind of weakness. If you are meek and cannot exact justice then you must be merciful and forgive. Our reading from the Book of Wisdom speaks about the power of God exercised in judgment and points out how power attends God. Yet, God does not use his judgment in harshness to condemn, even though he could understandably do so, rather, he judges with leniency and exercises judgment in clemency. Justice does not limit God’s power but rather it focuses his power on his freedom to choose mercy. Through his deeds of mercy he teaches us that, “those who are just must be kind…” True power is demonstrated in kindness.
We tend to look at those who are mean to be the strong ones in our society. However, Wisdom tells us that true strength and power are shown by those who choose to be kind. Meanness is often a mask to hide fear and weakness. Kindness is a true act of power for it unites us to the power of God to transform the world in grace and mercy. Kindness gives the gift of self and demonstrates that a person is confident in their own giftedness and value. Acts of kindness have the power to transform people’s lives. Kindness is evidence that God’s grace permeates a person’s entire being and overflows in acts of kindness. Those who are powerful have a responsibility to use their power to perform acts of kindness and thus to demonstrate and teach the kindness of God.
Kindness is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5,22). To be kind is to participate in the divine life of God. When we put on Christ we put on kindness (Col 3,12) and the Spirit and peace of Christ dwells within us. Kindness is a virtue that overcomes the vice of envy. When we choose to be kind and offer acts of kindness to others we are truly living in the Spirit of God. Kindness is something that is written deeply into our spirit by the Spirit of God.
Charles Kuralt in his book, On the Road with Charles Kuralt, asserted that, “The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.” In his travels to small towns around the states he discovered the everyday kindness of the American people and recognized the true power behind those acts of everyday kindness. Meanness, envy and greed might grab the headlines but it is the acts of kindness that make us what we are today as the world’s most powerful nation. Kindness is our true claim to greatness as a nation. To be kind is not to show weakness but to be powerful in defeating the meanness of the world.
Today, take the opportunity to offer to God some random act of kindness to a person in need. A kind word, a good deed, a helping hand, overlooking a fault all of these seem like small things in themselves but they have the power to transform the world and to truly change people’s lives. Plant the small seeds of kindness and watch them grow into the Kingdom of God and don’t worry so much about the weeds of meanness that you see out there in the world. The seeds of kindness have been sown by the hand of our Lord and will yield a great harvest of love.