Monday, November 06, 2006


We all want peace and reconciliation. We wouldn't be normal if we didn't. Most people hate fighting and arguments. Our trouble often is that we know we want the peace and harmony but are not prepared to take the first step.

To achieve reconciliation is not easy. It takes humility and humility can sometimes be a bitter pill to swallow. I don't like to make myself little so that someone else can feel better, even if peace and harmony are the results. It is difficult to say sorry.

Of course we all know the saying "Forgive and forget". That's all very well. Forgiveness can take many years after a big injury or disagreement. It's even harder to forget when someone has hurt me. No matter how hard I might try to forgive, throughout my life there can be occasions when I will remember the time of the hurt or the argument that caused the split in my relationship with someone. Each time I remember the hurt, I find my heart aching and sore once again.

Sometimes it's worth remembering that when that happens, it's only the memory that is painful. The actual occasion that caused the hurt has passed into history. It's over. If I carry that hurt, then I'm the only one who is suffering. Nobody else is. Even if I was innocent, the fact that I have a painful memory does not cause any pain to the one who made me suffer. In fact, in reliving painful memories, I am causing the suffering to myself. If I can't let go, then I am causing an ongoing wound in my own heart and making my own life harder to bear.
It's not easy, but it is possible to let go and to hand over that pain to God. It might be very difficult, but it is possible to try to bring about reconciliation even when the cause of the split has been very serious.

One possible way of bringing about reconciliation is to use the Sign of Peace at Mass. Then, without even saying anything, the effort to turn to someone else and to shake hands can be the start of a new relationship. It can be the first step towards reconciliation and healing.

Another way of bringing reconciliation is to pray for the person who is causing us the difficulties. It is very difficult to pray for someone and to be angry with him or her at the same time. Sometimes, when praying for someone with whom we disagree, we begin to see a situation from that person's viewpoint and our anger disappears.

I remember a time when I was very angry with a priest who was just about to offer the Mass I was about to attend. When it came to saying the 'Our Father', the words "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" hit me. Although I was the innocent party in that situation, how could I ask God for forgiveness when I wasn't ready to forgive someone else? How could I give the Sign of Peace unless I really meant it with all of my heart? That was a lesson I've never forgotten.

Let us pray, today, for the gift of reconciliation. Let us forgive and also allow ourselves to be forgiven.Lord, there are many times when I have not had peace in my heart and have not wanted to be reconciled with my brother or sister. Help me, Lord, to be open to you. Help me to be the first to say 'sorry' when I am in the wrong. Let me be the first to say 'I forgive you' when someone has hurt me in some way. Amen
God bless,