Monday, January 9, 2012

Jesus Never Said, "Blessed are the Nice"

I remember Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR saying in a homily: "Jesus never said 'Blessed are the nice...' Nice is an English term... Sometimes you will hear people say: 'Oh, that priest is so nice.' Watch out if you, as a priest, ever come under that label. Being 'Father Nice' is not a good thing."

What is to be nice? It mainly means to be pleasant and agreeable, but only in a worldly sense. It has no apparent connection to the divine. Jesus never taught: "Blessed are the nice, for they shall be shown niceness." Nor did King David ever sing: "The Lord is nice and sophisticated." It sounds simply unnatural when relating to spiritual realities. Furthermore, being nice has the issue of potentially pleasing your company without regard to moral goodness. Anyone can be nice, but not everyone who is nice does good, for "even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Cor 11:14).
More sins are committed from the desire to please than from a wish to injure; in fact, some virtues are hated: the severity that never relaxes, the strength of soul that never gives in to favors. (Tacitus, Annals 15 § 21)
On the contrary, where "man looks on the outward appearance" and values niceness, "the Lord looks on the heart" (1 Sam 16:7) and values kindness. The Apostle Paul listed kindness among the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22). Indeed, "The Lord is kind and merciful" (Ps 103:8) and "gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Ex 34:6-7). Kindness is pinned to goodness. He who is kind seeks the good of his neighbor. This is the language of godliness. No one who does evil may claim kindness without butchering the very meaning of the word.