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Kindness Matters

First Reading: Ecclesiastes 11:9—12:8

Rejoice, O young man, while you are young
and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart,
the vision of your eyes;
Yet understand that as regards all this
God will bring you to judgment.
Ward off grief from your heart
and put away trouble from your presence,
though the dawn of youth is fleeting.

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,
before the evil days come
And the years approach of which you will say,
I have no pleasure in them;
Before the sun is darkened,
and the light, and the moon, and the stars,
while the clouds return after the rain;
When the guardians of the house tremble,
and the strong men are bent,
And the grinders are idle because they are few,
and they who look through the windows grow blind;
When the doors to the street are shut,
and the sound of the mill is low;
When one waits for the chirp of a bird,
but all the daughters of song are suppressed;
And one fears heights,
and perils in the street;
When the almond tree blooms,
and the locust grows sluggish
and the caper berry is without effect,
Because man goes to his lasting home,
and mourners go about the streets;
Before the silver cord is snapped
and the golden bowl is broken,
And the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the broken pulley falls into the well,
And the dust returns to the earth as it once was,
and the life breath returns to God who gave it.

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
all things are vanity!

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 AND 17

R. (1) In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the Lord our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Gospel: Luke 9:43B-45

While they were all amazed at his every deed,
Jesus said to his disciples,
“Pay attention to what I am telling you.
The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.”
But they did not understand this saying;
its meaning was hidden from them
so that they should not understand it,
and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

NAB

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Fill us at daybreak with your kindness.

Our world is so upside down and inside out right now. It seems like each unthinkable tragedy barely hits headlines before the next is fresh on its heels. While today’s faces and events are different, they’re rooted in the same ancient evils plaguing humanity in our First Reading, in a world when the sun seems darkened . . . the guardians of the house tremble [and] the doors to the street are shut. In this Year of Mercy, Satan appears especially persistent in his efforts to use tragedy to turn us against each other, and we as a culture have snapped up the bait.

From the vantage of our own human experience, we flounder to comprehend such incomprehensible, degrading evils against human dignity. Yet when understanding is impossible, we jump to conclusions, we crave a responsible party, we clamor to find a motive, and allow ourselves to be incited and provoked. In this age where everyone has a voice and a platform, we rush to broadcast generalizations and assumptions which degrade humanity all the more.

We are compelled to take a stand, to be heard. But truly, respectfully, hearing one another?

This is a dismal rarity.

And so the complexity and depth of humanity’s beauty is lost, devolving into the chaos of a thousand splintered factions all battling one another in self-righteous indignation. Whether or not truth is on “our side,” God’s sacrosanct truth is never so absent as when we dismiss the dignity and personhood of those on the “other” side.

Always—and without fail—Satan seeks to divide.

Yet God—our sovereign Lord—who created us calls us to unite.

Pope Francis once said, “Human dignity is the same for all human beings; when I trample on the dignity of another, I am trampling on my own.” (Message of Pope Francis for Lenten Brotherhood Campaign in Brazil.)

Today, let us ask—and answer—ourselves honestly: how well do we love those least like us?

And then sisters, let us be the ones to uphold our own dignity by upholding the dignity of others, no matter how foreign their circumstances from our own. Let us be the ones to extend mercy that unites over judgement that only further divides. Let us be the ones filled each new day with God’s kindness. Let us be the ones to more carefully consider our words, our comments, our thoughts, our tone as either weapon or remedy, and actively choose to carry the remedy of God’s love into our broken world as a balm of healing.

[bctt tweet=”Let us ask ourselves honestly: how well do we love those least like us?” username=”blessedisshe__”]

Let us be united in God’s love as His children.

Megan Hjelmstad is a wife, mom, writer and sometimes soldier whose real passion is equal parts faith and chocolate. You can find out more about her here.

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