I remember when I was young, there was an older boy who was physically and mentally disabled. He had a speech impediment and walked with difficulty. The boys used to make fun of him. They teased and taunted him until sometimes he would cry.
I can still hear his voice: “You’re not kind to me,” he said. And still they would ridicule him, push him, and make jokes about him.
One day I could bear it no longer. Although I was only seven years old, the Lord gave me the courage to stand up to my friends.
“Don’t touch him,” I said to them. “Stop teasing him. Be kind. He is a child of God!”
My friends stepped back and turned away.
I wondered at the time if my boldness would jeopardize my relationship with them. But the opposite happened. From that day onward, my friends and I became closer. They showed increased compassion for the boy. They became better human beings. To my knowledge, they never taunted him again.
If only we had more compassion for those who are different from us, it would lighten many of the problems and sorrows in the world today. It would certainly make our families and the Church a more hallowed and heavenly place.
Illustration by Doug Fakkel