No one doubts that we should have compassion for the sick, for those who have suffered misfortune. Therefore, if one limb suffers, all the limbs suffer from it (1 Cor 12:26).
Even young, cheerful boys and girls should learn to visit the sick and minister to them. This is also important for the development of personality. Many of the so-called “problems” of youth and inner crises arise from concentrating too much on oneself. Contact with the pains of another distracts from selfish closeness, purifies, and eases the heart.
Material misery, even today in the world, is much greater than we are aware of. Recently, documents handed over to the United Nations show how a good three-quarter of humanity lacks even the necessities. With equal concern, as society is embarking on interplanetary explorations of space, we are to discover the misery and need of the people around that we may one day hear the voice of Christ himself: I have been I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat (Mt 25:35). Today, however, there are noble societies for the protection of animals, the security of animals, the security of forests, the protection of natural beauties. A gentle person has a kind of reverence and gentleness for everything that exists. Animal cruelty reveals a perverse affection and should be punished, especially in children. But let us avoid excessive sentimentality. Animals are not persons but things. They serve man. It is not immoral to hunt and kill animals. But it must not be lost sight of, as far as necessary, helpful, and equally a method, in the way it is done. The limits of mercy no one can be more merciful than God himself. Humanly, we say that even God’s patience has its limits and will one day cease towards the reprobate. More precisely, it does not cease.
God’s mercy, as the sun does not cease to shine. However, it does not penetrate where the windows are barred, to him who has closed himself off from God’s rays. Therefore, the great mysteries of the grave will not resolve the conjectures that only a kind of sentimental tolerance of everything will inspire. We certainly pray for all the dead because we know nothing of their fate. For all the living people, then, the gate of God’s mercy is still open. And yet even God Himself, according to the human expressions of Scripture, is angry, threatens, severely chastises, calamities come, calamities, wars. Atheists of all ages adduce these facts as evidence against the existence of God. Christians, on the contrary, believe in the providence of God. God leads us to good, when he punishes.
Genuine compassion cannot remain evil but uses all means of correction, even harsh punishment. Similarly, he seeks to act to the best of his ability. It would not be “merciful” state authorities who would let free to steal, to assault the innocent, who would suffer the public disorder. They are not merciful parents who spoiled their children, nor teachers who have taught their charges nothing. Ancient authors sometimes extolled Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance. Her spirit in man, the desire to track down every crime and punish every iniquity, is, according to Aristotle, a praiseworthy passion. We rightly say that the spirit of vengefulness is a pagan spirit. But we cannot so simplify the fact that we neglect justice for the sake of mercy. Sending a just order is a better act of love than undeserved kindness. Cowardice manifests itself under the auspices of understanding, especially where we forget our duties so as not to be inconvenienced. We are afraid to harm one we care about, even though others suffer who do not matter to us.