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Sunday – 23

In human relationships, one of the most difficult demands is that of reconciling with one’s enemies. Why initiate the reconciliation process? That would mean an admission of guilt. Or maybe of weakness! And we don’t want that!

And how will you reconcile with your enemies when it entails communicating with them, talking to them? When you are hurt by your neighbor, your immediate impulse is to cease all communications. We decide to build a wall of separation so that we can easily isolate the source of our misery. This is our defense. I have seen this happen among spouses who have gone their separate ways. I know this happens to erstwhile friends after a big and permanent divide.

The gospel wishes to shed light on this human struggle and constant weakness in relationship. How do you deal with someone who has caused you pain and destroyed your trust? What is the Lord saying about our enemies?

Ezekiel says: you must warn the evildoer about his actions or else you will be responsible for his ruin. The Lord Jesus says: if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. The Lord wants us to talk to our enemies! How easy is that?

Let us probe God’s intention. First, the Lord wants us to be instruments in the conversion, even of the people who wronged us. Though our natural instinct is revenge, the Lord wants instead to use us to help others. Second, this dialogue with the enemy is a condition of true worship. Can you truly receive Jesus in your heart at Mass or in prayer when it is closed to our neighbor?

Jesus surely knows how difficult it is to suffer from another person’s bad action or intentions. Yet Jesus also wants us to keep an open heart, ready for healing, rather than nurse a grudge that will continue to eat us up and destroy our joy. But though this is noble, it is certainly not easy. I feel that myself and I know you do too.

However, there is deep wisdom in Jesus’ words. Our world is wracked in violence and hatred already. As Christians, we must decide to overturn this vicious pattern by our readiness to offer peace and healing. And we can start by praying. We pray for our enemies so that they will be open to the process of reconciliation. We also pray for ourselves so that we will desire to reach out and show compassion, as we have received it also from the Lord.

I had a major fight with a friend and this caused us to avoid each other for years. But when I heard that his mother died, I felt compelled to attend the wake and offer prayers. Reluctantly I approached this person and offered condolences and did the blessing for his mother. After that, I hurriedly left the room to return to my car. But this person ran after me, apologized for what he has done and asked that we bury that unfortunate incident of the past forever. I tell you, it was difficult but it was also a blessed moment that made the gospel alive between us.