"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ has forgiven you." (Eph 4:32).
There is nothing more wonderful than hearing someone say to you: “I love you.” When someone loves us we don’t feel alone, we walk secure, we are also able to face difficulties and critical situations. If then our being loved becomes mutual, hope and trust are reinforced, and we feel protected.
We all know that children, to grow well, need to be immersed in an environment that is full of love, and to have someone who loves them personally. But this is true at any age. For this reason, the Word of Life invites us to be “kind” to one another, which is to say to love one another, and it gives God himself as a model.
It is precisely his example that reminds us that loving one another is not mere sentiment. It is extremely concrete and demanding, wanting the good of the other. In Jesus, God has come close to the sick and the poor, felt compassion for the crowds, had mercy on sinners, and forgiven those who crucified him.
For us, too, wanting the good of others means listening to them, showing them sincere attention, sharing their joys and trials, taking care of them, walking with them along their way. The other person is never a stranger, but a brother or sister who belongs to me, whom I wish to serve.
This is the exact opposite of what happens when we see others as rivals, competitors, enemies, to the point of wanting their harm, to the point of crushing them or even eliminating them, as we sadly see in the news each day. Even though we may not go that far, don’t we also accumulate grudges, distrust, hostility or simple indifference toward people who have hurt us, whom we find unpleasant, or who do not belong to our social circle?
The Word of Life teaches us that wanting the good of one another means following the path of mercy, being ready to forgive one another every time we slip up. In this regard, Focolare founder Chiara Lubich use to share about the experience at the beginning of her new Christian community. In order to put Jesus’ command into practice, she and her early followers made a pact of mutual love. And yet, despite this, “especially in the early times it was not always easy for this group of girls to live the radicality of [Gospel] love. We were people like anyone else, even if we were sustained by a special gift of God. Dust could still gather and our unity could weaken. This is what happened when we noticed the others’ shortcomings, their imperfections, and we judged them. The current of mutual love then grew cold.
“To face this situation, one day we decided that we would make a pact among us that we called the ‘pact of mercy.’ We decided every morning to see each neighbor we met — in our focolare home, at school, at work and so on — to see them as new, as really new, without remembering the other’s flaws and defects at all, but rather covering everything with love. It was a matter of meeting
everyone with this complete amnesty, this universal pardon in our hearts. It was a powerful commitment, taken by all of us together, that helped us always to be the first in loving, in imitation of God who is merciful, who forgives and forgets” (“L’Amore al prossimo,” Umanitá Nuova, Cittá Nuova, 2002).
A pact of mercy! Couldn’t this be a way to grow in kindness?
Fr. Fabio Ciardi, OMI
Each month the Focolare offers a Scripture passage as a guide and inspiration for daily living. Ever since the Focolare’s earliest years, founder Chiara Lubich (1920–2008) wrote her own commentaries each month. Now Fr. Fabio Ciardi, OMI, theologian and close collaborator of Lubich, is writing the commentaries, reflecting her thoughts and her spirituality of unity.
Read more on this topic:
Lubich, Chiara. “Mercy and forgiveness,” Unity. New City Press: Hyde Park, New York, 2015, p. 91.
Lubich, Chiara. “Love the suffering caused by disunity,” Unity. New City Press: Hyde Park, New York, 2015, p. 103.
Lubich, Chiara. “Our brothers and sisters,” Essential Writings. New City Press: Hyde Park, New York, 2007, p. 78.
“You have one teacher, and you are all students.” (Mt 23:8)