"Compassion and benevolence" (仁愛)
44 X 36cm in Clerical Script (隸書)
The Chinese word "愛" is "love" in English. However, the Chinese word "
仁" (Benevolence) is defined in several ways in Analects (論語) ,
which is a book that documented conversations between Confucius and his disciples:
Fan Chi asked about benevolence. The Master said, "It is to love all men." (樊遲問仁。子曰：「愛人。」) (1) Yan Yuan asked about benevolence. The Master said, "To subdue one's self and return to propriety, is benevolence. " (顏淵問仁。子曰：「克己復禮為仁。」)(2)
Zhong Gong asked about benevolence. The Master said, "Not to do to others as you would not wish done to yourself." (仲弓問仁。子曰：「己所不欲，勿施於人。」) (3
Compassion and benevolence.
(translated by KS Vincent Poon, Oct . 2015)
All three definitions in Analects (論語) imply "benevolence" as acts of love, respect and consideration of others, and so are extremely consistent with core Catholic teachings: "Thou shalt love thy friend as thyself" (Leviticus 19:18), "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matthew 19:19, 22:39; Mark 12:31), "...to love one's neighbour as one's self, is a greater thing than all holocausts and sacrifices" (Mark 12:33), "For all the law is fulfilled in one word: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Galatians 5:14).
There are certainly many commonalities among cultures, religions and even philosophies regarding the morality of humans; this is only one example where Confucianism is consistent and compatible with Christianity.
Of course, in the Catholic faith, we do believe in the Almighty God, but that itself is not enough. Faith in our heart should turn to actions of love, respect and consideration of others; without actions, faith is empty, hollow, and, strictly speaking, non-existent. It is not enough to just pray and attend mass, as the Lord had once said, "I want mercy, not sacrifice.” (我喜愛仁愛勝過祭獻) (Mathew 12:7). Having mercy on others mean loving, serving and considering the unfortunate ones and the weak. Certainly we are not God, but we should try our best: as Mother Teresa said, "We can do no great things, only small things with great love.". The "do" part is where love is shown, and so should be the focus of our faith.