The spiritual works of mercy are difficult, and because of this, they are often time neglected. We are faced with instructing the ignorant and admonishing the sinner. Here is a great Bible passage about it:
“If I say to the wicked, You shall surely die—and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade the wicked from their evil conduct in order to save their lives—then they shall die for their sin, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. If, however, you warn the wicked and they still do not turn from their wickedness and evil conduct, they shall die for their sin, but you shall save your life. (instructing the ignorant) But if the just turn away from their right conduct and do evil when I place a stumbling block before them, then they shall die. Since you did not warn them about their sin, they shall still die, and the just deeds that they performed will not be remembered on their behalf. I will, however, hold you responsible for their blood. If, on the other hand, you warn the just to avoid sin, and they do not sin, they will surely live because of the warning, and you in turn shall save your own life. (admonishing the sinner)” – [Ezekiel 3:18-21]
If we do not instruct the ignorant or admonish the sinner, it would seem that we are not living up to our Christian duty and the sins of the ignorant that we failed to instruct or the sinner that we do not admonish. Of course, our 'always be kind' culture makes these very difficult to live. But let’s look to Jesus as an example. Surely, He would have done these during His earthly ministry.
Jesus was very nice when instructing the ignorant. Giving them hope to turn from their ways. “Go and sin no more,” is a phrase that rings in my ears after Jesus would heal someone. As for admonishing the sinner, He called them hypocrites. Once when Jesus was admonishing the Pharisees, “one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, ‘Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.’ And He said, ‘Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.’” – [Luke 11:45-46]
Jesus would not have done very well in our 'always be kind' culture. Indeed, His admonishment was met with hostility as we later read. “When he left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.” – [Luke 11:53-54] So, we can expect hostility when we do likewise.
If we are expecting hostility and know that people will not listen, does that alleviate our Christian duty? Of course not. Christians have always had hard lives to live. St John the Baptist was beheaded for speaking against sin. We may not be beheaded literally, but we will be attacked. And we should always, ALWAYS remember that we are to do these out of love. Not because we want to prove ourselves better, but because we know the truth and we want to share that truth with others in order to help them to Heaven. We do not condemn them to Hell, but point them to the hope that only a life with Jesus can bring.
St John the Baptist, you were the forerunner for Jesus Christ. You loved others even when doing so would bring their attacks upon you, help us to have the courage to love others regardless of what it could cost us.