[continued from yesterday]
...Or again, we may be roused to indignation against some confirmed criminal, some utterly bad man. But we may not know that the same poor creature is equally disgusted and indignant with himself; that it is his circumstances more than himself that stand responsible for his condition; that if we had had his chances and no more, our fate would have been a poor thing; that even as it is his outlook is such as would make us happier creatures envious; that for all his wickedness there are nevertheless those who know him better than we, and understand him better than we, and have an unaccountable attraction and affection for something he possesses.
Even Bill Sykes was loved by Nancy - and by his dog; and to be loved with sincerity by one who knows us implies something in us that is lovable. Who that has dealt much with criminals has not felt this lovableness peering out in all sorts of places?
The second principle is that of hope; and this means that we should be confident that no good deed we ever. do is wasted. It is true we may fail in our immediate object; we may not always gain the good effect we intended. We may work for a conversion, and our friend may die without any sign of having once ever given the matter a thought. We may give an alms and find we have only been encouraging a wastrel. We may labour to exhaustion in teaching a child, and the child may turn out nothing but a shame to its instructors. Still none of these cover the whole matter.
A good deed done is like a stone dropped in deep water; the circles of waves continue to go out from that centre, on and on, and to and fro, long after the stone has settled at the bottom.
Let us examine these cases in some detail. I teach a child and seem to myself to have failed, to have wasted my time and energy. But others do not see it in the same light; the child itself does not.
Others have been stimulated by that which I have done, in ways and to efforts altogether out of my ken. The child itself has a memory stored away in its heart, which some day will lead to its repentance.
And besides these waves of blessing that have been started, with results more far-reaching than any dream of mine would have fancied, there is the lasting good done to myself, there is the fulfilment of a noble duty to mankind, there is the glory of a sacrifice given to God, there is the likeness to Jesus Christ, then most of all when my effort is least rewarded: and none of these may be neglected in the reckoning....
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918