Devotional/Discussion thought of the day:
“You have to love your fellow men to the point where even their defects, as long as they do not constitute an offence against God, hardly seem to you to be defects at all. If you love only the good qualities you see in others—if you do not know how to be understanding, to make allowances for them and forgive them—you are an egoist.” (1)
Therefore, to avoid this vice (bearing false witness) we should note that no one is allowed publicly to judge and reprove his neighbor, although he may see him sin, unless he have a command to judge and to reprove. For there is a great difference between these two things, judging sin and knowing sin. You may indeed know it, but you are not to judge it. I can indeed see and hear that my neighbor sins, but I have no command to report it to others. Now, if I rush in, judging and passing sentence, I fall into a sin which is greater than his.
There was once a saying that you must accept one major defect in each of your friends. I am not sure of where it comes from, or to what extent I agree with it. But if we are to have friends, we have to accept that our friends will be sinners. Including of course, the fact that they will sin against us, and we will sin against them. We will struggle with this, as we wonder if they will forgive, and whether we will. Will we count their sins more important than their friendship? WIll we value them enough to go and ask forgiveness. And we ask, will they hurt us again? Does forgiving render us defenseless against future pain, or can we remember – and keep up our guard up.
In Fr. Escriva’s comment, the shortcomings are specifically between you and another, and yes Martin Luther’s are more geared toward general sin against God. But both have at the heart of them the idea goal of maintaining a relationship that is health and without the walls that come up, when we become egotists, when we place ourselves in Gods position, and decide that wrath and punishment are deserved, and withholding mercy is what is needed.
Except that is not the heart of God.
Remember – the offer of mercy was given to you, before you actually sinned – before you were even conceived in sin. The debt is already paid for, the mercy poured out on you, and the only option we have… is to refuse it, to ignore it, to turn and walk away from it. As we understand the concept of Justification, as we understand the power of reconciliation, it is while we are yet sinners and enemies of God, that He was working, to draw us back, to make things right, to seperate that sin from us, as the Holy Spirit uses the word of God, the very gospel revealed to us, to cut out the hardness of heart and the egotism that would make us… not extend forgiveness.
Knowing that – can we look at our brothers and sisters with Christ’s attitude towards them? Can we look at them knowing the mind of God – the attitude we see revealed in passages like John 17 and Philippians 2 and 1 Corinthians 13? Can we point them to Jesus, always and encourage them to point us there, to the cross, where we are, together, untied in His love, in His grace, because of the great mercy He has for us?
We can… and when we struggle – my best suggestion – remember the sacraments, remember the water poured over you, cleansing you from sin, remember the altar where you go, that you may know and taste and see that the Lord is good? Can you bring your brother there… and celebrate the goodness of God – who has blessed you with each other?
Such is our calling, such is our ministry.
Lord have the mercy on us, to enable us to do this very thing!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3365-3367). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) The Large Catechism of Martin Luther. the explanation of the 8th commandment