How often are we quick to judge someone who we see as disagreeable, strongly opinionated or assertive? Feeling our own sense of pride offended, and leaving indignant we frequently proceed to telling others or instead harbor that annoyance within. Yet, neither of these options can be understood as beneficial either to our relationships or to our spiritual growth.
Scripture firmly emphasizes the importance of conflict resolution as a community if we are to be the body of Christ in the world. No pretenses, we are to leave our gift on the altar, and work towards reconciliation. Moreover, we are to speak to that person privately first. “If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ (Matt 18:15-17)
In doing so love, and not self righteousness, needs to be the intent of reconciliation. For “if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2-3)”
Only love connects us divinely with God, unites us in faith, and holds the promise of our salvation.
Yet, how do we walk this path of reconciliation equipped only with love? With humility, leaving our pride and righteous offense at their actions aside and choosing love. We cannot hold both love and pride in our hearts. We must look at ourselves, ask for God’s grace and desire our own conversion of heart. Though it has taken me a lifetime to understand, this is for me the meaning of turning the other cheek. It does not mean that we are to become a “doormat” for others to walk on, but that in following Christ we are to seek to meet all-even those most difficult-with light and love.
With this being said, a few days ago I spoke my goodbyes to a dear friend who had lost his very painful battle with cancer. To many, including members in the family he was commonly referred to in words of frustration, and actions of avoidance. An extremely intelligent man, who had so much to share, he would habitually though unintentionally irritate others. And because those around him seldom found it easier to talk to him than to one another, true reconciliation was difficult. In the months before he died, he asked me to call him regularly while just to chat briefly. He had lost so much in life- his daughter to drugs, his first wife to cancer, and his son still battling addiction. Looking at the end of his life all he sought was forgiveness, acceptance and love.
How is this so different from our own desires in life?
So, today I ask you to unstrap your sandals, step into those of another and walk a spell. How would Christ meet the difficulty in your life today? If you feel challenged to make a change, put your feet in motion and seek reconciliation. The first step towards peace, and forgiveness of others is to make time for the sacrament of reconciliation in our own lives. Only from the depths of God’s love and mercy can we truly understand the steps that Christ has walked and where He is leading us to go today.