Kinship means to have a blood relationship with someone or to share characteristics or origins. As humans we share characteristics and origin with all people regardless of nationality, culture, race or religion. All people were created by God and therefore we are all related.
Kinship is also to have empathy or compassion with others. Since we are all related we should be living with compassion for others. But unfortunately we tend to safe our compassion and empathy for those we deem worthy. This approach has the effect of creating a small circle and the ones that need to be included are often on the fringes of our outreach or they just don’t feature. We have mostly fallen into the trap of demonizing the unknown or people that don’t fit into our small circle.
Jesus taught the opposite of what we practice in our daily lives. He stood with the outcasts. He touched the people that everybody else would not even come close too. He had compassion with the destitute who were rejected by society. The ones frowned upon by society were the ones that flocked to Jesus and He never once rejected them. Reading through the Gospels you find that Jesus had more trouble with the religious people than with the outcasts.
The church has much blame and guilt to carry for acting in ways that are the complete opposite to what Jesus stood for. We placed people in boxes and if they do not fit the box description they are left out in the cold.
Maybe we have to sit and rethink the way we do life as followers of Jesus and also as humans. Fr. Gregory Boyle wrote in his book, Tattoos on the heart: The Power of boundless compassion, “Only kinship. Inching ourselves closer to creating a community of kinship such that God might recognize it. Soon we imagine with God, this circle of compassion. Then we imagine no-one standing outside of that circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased. We stand there with those whose dignity has been denied. We locate ourselves with the poor and the powerless and the voiceless. At the edges, we join the easily despised and the readily left out. We stand with the demonized so the demonizing will stop. We situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away.”
We need to get back to a place where we have compassion and empathy with others. We cannot reject people based on our man made criteria of race, social stance, sexual orientation or any other prejudice. We need to give love and practice love. We need to live love. We need to recognize ourselves in the eyes of others and then treat others with compassion because of our blood relationship with them. The blood relationship that was reinstated by Jesus on the cross.
This year has the potential to be the year that defines us as Christians. The year where we show the world that we truly do follow Jesus. Not just in our words, but also in what we do and how we do it.
Is it possible to challenge ourselves to radically follow Jesus by simply doing what He did? Love everyone without judging, without boxing them into our perceptions of who they are? Can we be unconditional in our love for each and society as a whole?
Life is too short to always be at war with someone just because they are different. We need to embrace each other’s differences and learn from one another. We can achieve this through kinship. Boundless compassion.