Tuesday, 22 March 2016



Bear Wrong Patiently.

Ever been worn out by people filled with self-pity, always moaning about the way they’ve been ill-treated? Why can’t these tedious bores show us a little mercy? Why can’t they bear their troubles patiently? That’s what  the 4th Spiritual Work of Mercy is telling them, us, to do!  Bearing wrongs patiently, out of compassion, out of mercy, for others.
If we attempt to correct them with sweet persuasion or quarrel with them mightily and savagely, where does this get us? Some of them just can't help being abusive – verbally, emotionally, physically and even spiritually. Such tyrants (dare I call them ‘monsters’?) are to be found in the home, in the work-place, in the sporting arena, and, let’s face it, even in Holy Mother Church herself.
 Most of us would probably think they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. And they might self-righteously retaliate by telling us we ought to BEAR WITH THEM PATIENTLY!
 The remaining possibility is to choose to suffer in silence, be a martyr. We might well think this might secure a measure of peace, however wretched and that this would be better than endless conflict. Others will find the only thing to do is clear out rather than be crippled emotionally and even physically! And who can blame them? In my pastoral ministry I’ve seen this ‘Worst possible scenario’ all too frequently.
We, as Church, must be very diffident in the advice we offer to those who are victims of such oppressive behaviour. Out of mercy towards them we must try to protect them from being coarsened by seemingly justifiable anger, hatred, bitterness and even a lust for revenge.  

I’m thinking of deeply wounded people whose self-esteem has been badly damaged.  They need to be affirmed, cushioned by love and compassion, and healed by the grace of God. All this is necessary if  they are ever going to be able ‘Bear Wrongs Patiently.’ Don’t let anyone dare to say, ‘All you have to do…!

Out of his own often tormented pastoral experience St. Paul was still able to write, ‘If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat; if thirsty, something to drink’(see Proverbs 25.22). By this, you will be heaping red-hot coals on his head.  Do not be mastered by evil, but master evil with good, (Rom. 12.20). 

Jesus carries this approach yet further. For Him ‘Bearing Wrongs Patiently’ meant sacrificial love; healing mankind through patiently welcoming the very wounds mankind so unjustly inflicted upon Him. This is what His Heavenly Father intended for Him, as was described by the prophet Isaiah, 
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed."
Taking Jesus as his mentor   St. Paul presumed to identify his own persecution and suffering with that of Jesus,
I have been crucified with Christ  and yet I am alive; yet it is no longer I, but Christ living in me. The life  that I am now living, subject to the limitation of human nature, I am living in faith, faith  in the Son of God  who loved me and gave himself for me,” (Gal. 2.19).

 St. Paul himself suffered persecution, imprisonment, scourging and much more, as he proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ. He realized he was a member of the Body of Christ, with Jesus Christ Himself being the Head. It was not fanciful, therefore for him to see himself bonded with Jesus, in His suffering and in His mission. Sharing in the vulnerability of Jesus, the Suffering Servant, St. Paul would be contributing to the Salvation of Mankind.
What St. Paul wrote to the Colossians, we can, and should, make our own:
   “It makes me happy to be suffering for you now, and in my own body to make up all the hardships that still have to be undergone by Christ for the sake of His body, the Church,” (Col. 1.24). 

It has been humbling for me  to hear people telling me that, in union with Jesus in His agony, they are enduring their own acute pain. Whether in their sickness or trapped in hideously tense relationships they have told me, ‘He suffered from me. Now I’m suffering for Him.’  Their carrying their crosses in union with Jesus has been offered for  the healing of some sick person, for the patching up of a family that is falling apart, or for world peace....
In bearing patiently wrongs done to them and misfortunes that befall them they are not surrendering to the unavoidable. They are grasping the opportunity to take up their crosses alongside Jesus. 

They are the unsung heroes of the Church – living in our midst.  We must look out for them; we have so much to learn from them!

Let us Pray

Almighty Father, the life of each one of us has its sweet moments and its sour ones, smooth ones and rough ones.  
We implore your grace always to trust you and to have confidence in you - no matter what is happening in our lives.      
Come to our rescue when we are being treated unkindly, unjustly, even violently.  If needs be we beg your grace to bear these wrongs with patience. 

Your Son, Jesus was rejected, scorned, maligned and cruelly tortured and put to death. 
It was by His innocent wounds that He healed the wounded sinfulness of the human family. Grant to us the serenity that filled His sinless, loving heart.
Grant we may follow the example of Jesus in accepting our pain creatively for the well-being of others. Amen

For the sake of His Sacred Passion have mercy on us and the whole world.

Peter Clarke, O.P.

No comments:

Post a Comment