Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer. 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15
“Should an ass fall buy the wayside, how quickly people run to lift him up. Yet, alas! Souls perish and no one is moved. The devil besieges the city of the spirit, setting a light to the fires of concupiscence, massacring the virtues, the good works just begun, the holy resolutions. And how few weep for that calamity!
Some show a compassion, merely sensual in origin, for a neighbor’s physical needs. At least it shows that they have some good will. Others are too hard and severe, making no excuse for human weaknesses. Both end up by remaining indifferent. With a fallen brother we must show ourselves neither too tender nor too hard, neither soft as flesh nor hard as a bone. In him we must love our human nature while hating his fault.”
Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) in Voices of the Saints: A Year of Readings, ed. Bert Ghezzi (New York: Image, 2000) 52.
So true that we will pause to help an animal but remain indifferent to hurting humans. God forgive us. Teach us compassion. Help us hate the faults of fellow humans and love the human nature in them.
This compassion journey is taking us places the culture does not encourage us to go. Loving enemies and broken people who get the consequences of their actions are often outside the bounds of our generosity.
Think about it. Jesus showed us love when we were enemies, broken, and needy. We get to do the same thing. Paul urges us to warn them, no doubt with an even mix of grace and truth. God help us.