One look at social media tells a sad story. People spew hate, even going so far as to condemn family and good friends over a difference of opinion. These differences are mostly over politics and faith. These people often claim they are more tolerant than those they disagree with. What they really mean, they are tolerant of anyone who agrees with them. Disagree, and they crucify the dissenter while shouting tolerance.
In sharp contrast, look at the impact Saint Francis and Mother Teresa had on our world. Saint Francis of Assisi is particularly known for his vow of poverty, his humility, his love for all of God’s creation, and of course his faith. I have heard stories of how he “spoke” the Gospel by good deeds rather than preaching. Sister Teresa also preferred compassion to preaching. No one can deny the influence of both these humble saints. Hundreds of lives were changed.
Father Richard Rohr states, “Rather than criticize the evils of his time, St. Francis simply lived differently and let his lifestyle be his sermon.” This is so counter culture by our current standards. Many Christians feel it is their duty to reform the world not by kindness, or even living the faith as Jesus instructed, but by screaming the Gospel at anyone they feel lacking. What a shame. No wonder many cringe when they hear the word, “Christian.”
Imagine the results if we followed Saint Francis’ example, and rather than judging and ranting at those we call sinners, we invoked the “soft prophecy” of kind words, deeds, and love for all of God’s creation. The word, Christian, would conjure up someone other than a mean-spirited, judgmental individual pounding others with a Bible.
Jesus told us to love God with all of our hearts and our neighbor as ourselves. He didn’t say go scream at them for their political opinion or any other differences. He said those without sin may cast the first stone. An old proverb reiterates you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, yet we still use hateful words.
We cannot control anyone, except ourselves. We can however, be examples and inspirations to others. We can alleviate suffering with compassion, one poor soul at a time. We may not be able to go to the slums of India, or live in a cave in Italy, but we can treat our neighbors, our co-workers, family, acquaintances, and strangers, both on social media and in person, with compassion, instead of hatred. We can simplify our lives by not giving into frivolous indulgences and over the top consumerism. If we concentrated on the basics of food, clothing, and shelter, we would have more to give to others, have more peace of mind, more satisfaction, and less stress.