02 March 2007

LESSONS ON COMMUNITY LIFE

Friday in the 1st Week of Lent
Mt 5:20-26

Are we on the defensive or on the offensive? We are on the defensive when someone is attacking us. When we are the ones attacking, we are on the offensive. How about if we are neither on the defensive nor on the offensive, where are we then? If we are not attacking and neither are we being attacked, what are we doing then? Can it be that we are on the sides watching the offensive mercilessly attack the defensive? Or can it be that we are at the center as unwilling casualties of the endless exchange of attacks? Wherever we are and whatever we are doing, Jesus teaches us today three very important lessons on community life.

First, surpass the virtue of the scribes and Pharisees. Justice is an essential virtue. All communities should be governed justly. The well-meaning scribes and Pharisees strive to live justly: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. But there is a virtue higher than justice. We call it “mercy”. And mercy is God’s greatest attribute. Mercy is not the absence of justice. Mercy is justice anticipated. Mercy does not condone the attacker. Mercy, rather, restores whatever has been rendered wrong. But mercy also restores the wrongdoer. Justice can be brutal; mercy tempers it. Let us make our communities merciful even as they are just.

Second, if you have to be angry, be angry with something and not with someone. Hate the sin, not the sinner. Kill the act, not the actor. Anger, when directed towards someone, is always a creeping homicide. And beware: anger slaughters not the defensive but the offensive as well. Do not allow anger continue liquidating us; let us liquidate anger instead.

Third, take the initiative. Many minor misunderstandings become epic wars simply because no one wants to take the initiative toward sincere reconciliation. This lack of initiative is more than due to laziness. More often than not, parties in conflict refuse to take the reconciliatory initiative because of pride. There is no competition so futile than the competition on being the first to say “I’m sorry”. Our communities thrive on our individual and collective initiative; they will never survive, however, without reconciliation among their top initiatives.

Lent is not only a special time for self-renewal. It is also very much a grace-filled opportunity for the renewal of our communities. It is a chance for us to grow not only in our communities but also with our communities. As we improve on our personal Christian discipleship, our communities improve on their being Church. And while our communities improve on their being Church, our personal Christian discipleship improves as well.

Are we on the defensive or on the offensive? Do we attack or are we attacked? Are we on the sides or are we at the center?

Be merciful. Be angry with something and not with someone. Be the first to reconcile. Be like Jesus, our Peace.

1 Comments:

At 4:47 AM , Anonymous Bubut said...

Father God, help us that we will be able to see the sin and not the sinner. May we see sin through your eyes, help us that we will forgive those who have hurt us and try our best that we will not hurt the people whom we see everyday. Grant us the loving and forgiving heart.

God bless po.

 

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