Not Just For Kids
"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." ~Aesop, The Lion and the Mouse
The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)
A lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law?" The lawyer answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." Jesus said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live." But wanting to justify himself, the lawyer asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?"
To answer the question, Jesus told this story: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and left him to die. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; but when he saw the wounded man, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, who worked in the temple and was supposed to be a very holy person, came to the place and saw the injured man, but passed by on the other side.
Then a Samaritan while traveling came upon the victim; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to the man and poured oil and wine on his wounds, and bandaged him. Then he put the stranger on his own donkey, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Look after him; and when I come back, I will repay whatever more you spend.' Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" The lawyer answered, "The one who showed mercy to him." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
The phrase "Good Samaritan" has entered our vocabulary because of the famous story that Jesus told. In Jesus' time, however, most Jews would have found it inconceivable to hear "good" joined with "Samaritan." Jews hated the Samaritans, who were semi-foreigners, descendants of intermarriage between Israelites and pagans, and heretics. Jews cursed Samaritans publicly in their synagogues. Samaritans sometimes got even by murdering Jews going up to Jerusalem.
Jesus' story was predictable at first. A man would indeed "go down" from Jerusalem to Jericho, since the highway descended more than 3,000 feet in 17 miles. The robbing and beating of a lone traveler was every pilgrim's horror, as the route's sharp curves and rocky crevices made it an ideal spot for bandits to hide. It wasn't entirely surprising to hear that a priest and Levite went by and did not help; those listening to Jesus' story may have expected him to conclude by telling how an ordinary Jew came to the rescue, putting the religious professionals to shame. But the Samaritan was an unexpected twist in the tale.
A Samaritan who otherwise would be the enemy of this Jew had compassion on the poor victim, risked his own safety to stop, treated the man's wounds with an equivalent of ointment and disinfectant, and bandaged them. He set the stranger on his donkey (which meant that he had to walk), brought him to an inn and took personal care of him. Then he paid a generous deposit to the innkeeper (by one estimate, enough for three weeks' stay), and promised more if needed. What a shocker - a good Samaritan! By saying, "Go and do likewise," Jesus indicated that he wants us to be kind to everyone and help people whenever we can. Showing God's love means being helpful to all people - not just those who are like us or who might be important people.
"A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love." ~St. Basil
Practice being a GOOD NEIGHBOR. What can you do to be a good neighbor today? Being patient, courteous and helpful, even when others are not, creates a happy atmosphere and a peaceful life.
Charity Begins at Home
While it's important to help our neighbors, we must not take our friends or family for granted, either. Start by being kind and considerate to them. (This includes siblings!) We can brighten their day by even the littlest things we do. Try to view your actions through the eyes of friends at school or in the neighborhood and the people at home. What do you like or dislike in the things that you see? If you can put yourself in their shoes, you will discover what it takes to make life more pleasant for everyone. Add to this a good sense of humor, a big dose of patience, and a dash of humility, and you will be rewarded many times over.
Random Acts of Kindness
Random acts of kindness are small actions that anyone can do out of goodwill or consideration for others. It can be a simple gesture, such as a smile, a greeting, or extending a helping hand. Acts of kindness help us to respect others and see beyond ourselves. Kindness knows no barriers. You don't have to be big, rich or powerful to be kind. Anyone from the youngest child to the oldest adult can do it. Practice being friendly and helpful, and soon you will find that acts of kindness are spontaneous. And even better, you will see that kindness is contagious! Have you been kind to someone today? Here are some kind acts you can do:
1. Start a Good Deed Club.
"Random Acts of Kindness are those sweet or lovely things we do for no reason except that, momentarily, the best of our humanity has sprung into full bloom. When you perform such an act, you are doing not what life requires of you, but what the best of your human soul invites you to do. It is when we step outside the arena of the normal boundaries of our lives that our kindnesses move beyond the routine and enter the realm of the extraordinary and exquisite. Instead of being responsible good deeds, they become embodiments of compassion. To become the perpetrator of Random Acts of Kindness, then, is to become in some sense an angel. For it means you have moved beyond the limits of your daily human condition to touch wings with the divine." ~Daphne Rose Kingma, from the book Random Acts of Kindness, by Dawna Markova
"Though committing ourselves to the concept of Acts of Kindness is not the answer to all the ills of the world, we must begin somewhere. So, why NOT kindness? It benefits both the giver and the receiver. I hope that each of you will accept the challenge of performing acts of kindness in your daily lives and encourage others to join you. It costs little or nothing to be kind, and each act of kindness has the potential to multiply, bringing others into the cycle of committing kindnesses. Remember, an act of kindness goes a long way." ~from a speech on "Kindness" by Chuck Wall
Kindness Challenge - More than two million students will perform Acts of Kindness (helping others) and Acts of Justice (standing up for what is right) for two weeks from January 20 - 31, in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Holiday. Make Dr. King's principles of kindness and justice part of your daily life and keep the dream alive. (For more information about the "Do Something Kindness and Justice Challenge," visit www.dosomething.org.)
Kindness Week - Random Acts of Kindness Week (usually held the second week in February and including Kindness Awareness Day on the 12th) is a grassroots movement for performing random acts of kindness to show how easy it is to affect a person's life in a positive way and encourage others to do the same. For more information, visit The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, www.actsofkindness.org.
Good Deeds: Over 200 Suggestions for Random Acts of Kindness to Brighten the Lives of Family, Friends, and Complete Strangers, by James Charlton, 1993. (This book provides simple ways to make the everyday world a better place.)
Kids' Random Acts of Kindness, by Dawna Markova, 1994. (These inspirational stories of generosity - from whimsical and funny to moving and thoughtful - are written by children of all ages and reveal their surprisingly insightful feelings about kindness and compassion.)
Random Acts of Kindness, by Dawna Markova, 2002. (True stories, thoughtful quotations, and suggestions for generosity inspire readers to live more compassionately in this beautiful new edition of the book that inspired the kindness movement.)
Christian Acts of Kindness, by Barbara Johnson, 1999. (Acts of kindness need not be elaborate or planned. This book is a treasure trove of experiences of kindness, given and received. Some are big, like a complete Christmas provided for a family down on its luck. Some are small, like not hitting back. This book features shining examples of people around the world living the Christian credo to "love thy neighbor as thyself." From the church group that shovels driveways for strangers, to the woman who opened her home to shelter a group from a hurricane, to the church fund collected to pay for a local girl's college tuition, Christian Acts of Kindness is a gathering of inspiring stories and quotations about the power of kindness.)
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