WelCom December 2017:
Cardinal John Dew
Throughout this year, in my Confirmation homily I have been preaching about a magnificent short YouTube clip of some people saying ‘thank you’ to Michelle Obama. Six people were given the opportunity to tell her what she had meant to them during her eight years as First Lady of the United States. They were told to look at a portrait of her and speak to her. One of the men thanked her for her speeches and commented there is always a thread running through her speeches. The thread, he said, was ‘Kindness, kindness, always kindness, nothing but kindness’. What each of these people didn’t know was she was standing behind the curtain listening to them. Every time she came out, she totally surprised them and said, ‘your words are so kind’.
I used these words about her speeches always being about kindness in my Confirmation homily, making the connection with the reading of St Paul to the Galatians, where he lists the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, one of them, of course, being ‘Kindness’.
We are fast approaching the season where we wish one another ‘Peace and Happiness’ and where we encourage ‘goodwill to all’. Those sentiments are often part of our Christmas messages to our families and friends, and then a few days later we follow that very quickly by wishing one another a ‘Happy New Year’. We clearly want our fellow human beings to be happy, to be content, even to be ‘prosperous’. Our wish for others is never just for Christmas or just for New Year’s Day; we want it for one another right throughout the year.
On Christmas Day, if you were to go to an early morning Mass you would hear these words which the Lectionary gives us for the Mass at Dawn: ‘When the kindness and love of God our Saviour for humankind were revealed, it was not because he was concerned with any righteous action we might have done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own compassion that he saved us…’ (Titus 3: 4-7).
What we wish for one another comes to us as a gift from God. The kindness and love of God our Saviour were made known to us through the presence of Jesus in our world. When we are kind to others we show the very presence of God.
The words about Michelle Obama’s speeches had a very big impact on me. I haven’t always been kind, but I have thought a lot more about kindness and tried to put it into practice. The day after my last Confirmation ceremony this year I was still thinking about ‘Kindness, kindness, always kindness, nothing but kindness’ when I started to pray the Morning Prayer of the Church. The first antiphon for the day was something I had probably seen many, many times? But it was one of those days when it was as if I was seeing these words for the very first time. They were: ‘Each morning, Lord, you fill us with your kindness’.
As we prepare for Christmas and New Year it may be helpful to reflect on those nine words:
‘Each morning Lord you fill us with your kindness.’
It is not just some days of the year, but each and every morning that God’s kindness fills our lives. The only response to that is gratitude, and the more grateful we become the more will we be people of ‘Kindness, kindness, always kindness, nothing but kindness’.
I wish all WelCom readers a very happy, peaceful and blessed Christmas, and a year ahead filled with God’s blessings. I pray we will all be deeply aware of the fact that God fills us with kindness each morning.