Encountering God's Presence
“ I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.” Pope Francis: EVANGELII GAUDIUM
August's Focus: Encountering God's Presence through Acts of Kindness
God is kind…
An aspect of God, who is love, is God’s kindness. “Love is patient. Love is kind” (1 Cor. 13: 4)
Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger, abounding in kindness. (Psalm 103: 8)
We pray for God’s kindness…
May your kindness, Lord, be upon us; we have put our hope in you. (Psalm 33:22)
Lord, do not withhold your compassion from me; may your enduring kindness ever preserve me. (Psalm 40: 12)
We are called to be kind to others…
Kindness is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5: 22)
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another… (Col 3: 12)
Ways to Encounter God through Acts of Kindness
Acts of Kindness towards other people changes our world’s reality – even very simple things such as making eye to eye contact with another human being and smiling…or holding a door open to someone…or helping someone unstick two grocery carts at the store… you have brightened that person’s world as well as your own. The person you help may in turn help someone else. Imagine a world where everyone was kind to each other!
Acts of kindness connects us with our fellow humans. It reduces the emotional distance between two people and a bond is created that no matter how fleeting the moment is…lasts forever.
Acts of kindness can reduce symptoms of sadness. Focusing on the needs of others and being intentionally kind can bring us out of the self-centered, inward emotional spiral we sometimes find ourselves in. Acts of kindness release feel good hormones in our brain. We feel good when we are helping others.
Participating in acts of kindness is how God envisioned our world. Hearing about acts of kindness gives us a feeling of hope that not all is bad in this world. Participating in acts of kindness is a way for God’s Kingdom to be present in our midst.
- Take time and reflect on God’s kindness to you, your family, and through Jesus Christ. Read Titus 3: 4-5
- Think about acts of kindness you’ve experience through others. How did that make you feel? What was the effect of that act?
- Think about acts of kindness you’ve shown to others. How did that make you feel? What was the effect of that act?
(Sources: How Random Acts of Kindness Change Reality: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/donna-labermeier/how-random-acts-of-kindne_b_5512091.html;
The 5 Side Effects of Kindness: http://drdavidhamilton.com/the-5-side-effects-of-kindness/)
Practical suggestions and resources for Encountering God through Acts of Kindness
Be intentional and make a plan to be kind…
Look for simple opportunities
- Smile at strangers
- Help someone you know with something difficult
- Keep water bottles and snack bars in your car to give to the people with the signs on the street corner
- Buy a friend lunch who is going through a difficult time
- Listen to someone without judgment or answering
- Do an act of kindness anonymously
- Do an act of kindness and do not expect something in return
- Do something kind to the person who aggravates you the most
Involve your family
- Have your children/grandchildren make encouraging cards for people and place them on their windshields.
- Clean out closets and donate unused toys, books, and clothing
- Promote an attitude of gratitude – at a shared meal ask what each person was thankful for that day. An attitude of gratitude helps a person be more kind and happy.
- Find a neighbor who needs some help and work together as a family to help.
- Have your children/grandchildren write thank-you cards to the mail carrier, or the garbage person, or the bus driver or to one of the other members of your household.
- Have your children/grandchildren come up with ideas.