Reflection for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time by Br. Paul Crawford, FAN Board Treasurer
This reflection was originally posted in our February 13th newsletter
This week’s Gospel is a story that we, who profess that Jesus is Lord, can understand and relate to but do we live it?
The Lord indeed is kind and merciful to us, but sometimes we, as followers of Jesus and Sons and Daughters of St. Francis and St. Clare, are not as gracious as the Lord is to us.
There seems to be a human condition that we are all called to overcome within ourselves and perhaps even more so in our society today seeing each other as equals, as brothers and sisters, whom can have common goals and ambitions. But do we spend the time in listening, in encountering others that are outside the safe spaces in our lives? Do our fears overcome God’s call to be Holy, to bear no grudge, to welcome the stranger as our brother or sister?
All this reminds me of a birthday gathering years ago of one of our oldest friars. He had been in our infirmary for many years because of poor health. His family had all passed away as well as most brothers who were near him in age. He had had over 70 years in the community at the time of his 91st birthday. As was our custom at that time, our older birthday brother was brought downstairs for a pre-dinner gathering. It was festive and being a newer member of the community I enjoyed the stories and sharings of his life, family and ministry over his many years. But in the midst of the stories he was asked if he ever had a difficult time in religious life or in his ministry. He thought for a moment or two and then said that he at times found it difficult and challenging to live with some brothers and working with some brothers and some people in ministry.
He mentioned the difficult times and seemed to have a very tough time talking about the brothers who were in charge of his formation in the early days of his religious life. He then said that he felt as if they were against him and became almost enemies to him. He was asked, “So, how did you overcome that feeling, or do you feel better about them now?” His answer caused a uneasy laughter among us. He said,”Hey, I outlived them all and proved them wrong!”
In our own lives, there are times when others have caused us pain or misunderstandings. So, the Gospel’s call to pray for those who persecute you is a personal call for us all. I have found that when I do pray for those that I have a difficult or challenging time with, I tend to feel different about them. So prayer does work better than a curse. But it not easy to do.
Recently, I was touched by a song that really speaks to me on seeing my enemy as my brother. There is a video posted at Aleteia.org originally by The Brilliance which is well worth watching. “When I look into the face of my enemy, I see my brother.” Sung by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and the group Brilliance.
So, pray to understand those that you can not understand.
Accept that with God, change takes time. For ourselves and for others.
Believe that God is with you through this all.
Forgive, yourself and one another!
Brother Paul Crawford, OFM Cap.
FAN Board Treasurer