“Put on as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a
grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must
you also do.”
As I write this, my right arm is in a plaster cast from hand to
elbow and it’s a real drag. I can’t move at my customary
pace and I feel weighted down – sort of like a heart that
is weighted down with grievances feels this time of year. It’s
hard to bask in the joy of the season when today’s beautiful
first reading makes you feel guilty rather than inspired.
It’s easy to be a Christian when everything is rosy –
no battles with anyone of consequence – but much harder when
you are locked in a disagreement that can’t be as easily resolved.
We’ve all been there and will be there again and again. Maybe
it’s a family situation or a boss who makes you nuts.
I find it hard to try to view the world from the perspective of
an opponent – especially when it feels that justice is on
my side of a significant disagreement. I’m guessing that a
lot of readers share this dilemma.
What are we obligated to do? Must we just give in to everyone who
disagrees with us or seeks to take advantage of us? I don’t
think that this is what Paul means here.
Perhaps he is telling us to stop enjoying feeling aggrieved. Perhaps
he is saying to go the extra mile to try to understand and be generous
in negotiating a settlement to our differences. Maybe he is saying
try to love those with whom we are at odds without necessarily giving
in to their demands. Maybe we can at least pray for those with whom
we are at odds or try to focus on their strong points.
If we can manage to do these things, maybe we will start to feel
the peace of Christ fill our hearts as they break out of their plaster
Have a happy and blessed New Year!