Tenaciously Tender


1 August 2017


Our first reading in our Liturgy this day comes from the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament. Once again the prophet Moses features in his interaction with Almighty God. We hear:

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness; for thousands he maintains his kindness, forgives faults, transgression, sin (Exodus 34:5-9).

It is a beautiful text, don’t you think? God is tender, compassionate, patient, kind, faithful, forgiving. That is certainly the kind of God I would want to tell my family and friends about.

And the best way I can communicate this is by attempting to be just that: tender, compassionate, patient, kind, faithful, forgiving.

When he was first elected by the Cardinals to be the successor of St. Peter, Pope Francis began with this idea of tenderness. In his inaugural homily, on the feast of St. Joseph, he spoke of the vocation we all have of protecting and caring for each other, including creation:

In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!

Sometime later, in a different setting and context, the Pope spoke of the need to be “tenaciously tender” with one another.

This is our “food for thought” this day.

Courage and Compassion. Tenacity and Tenderness. Yes. These two virtues really do fit together and complement one another.

How might I be tenacious and tender this day? And with whom?