During the past ten days, we have been reflecting from various angles on our life’s priorities. We began with Jesus pointing out the “many things” that have kept us occupied and worried, and proceeded to examine the severe damages caused by the “many things” of our generation, mentality behind our habitual accumulation, trouble in making life choices, and our choosing of the master of our life. Then, we learned about a different kind of baggage, or another type of accumulation, that is, emotional baggage and spiritual bondage. Our emotional baggage and spiritual bondage are often resulted from our relationships with others; a phenomenon often neglected by all of us living in the contemporary world. This invisible baggage and bondage, like our endless accumulation of material and immaterial things, can only be shattered by our complete trust in God. In other words, if we hold firm in our belief that we are God’s children, and heirs to God’s kingdom, we will be equipped with the authority that comes from our Lord Jesus Christ, and be able to resist and banish the work of the devil in us; thus releasing ourselves from every baggage and bondage.
However, if we want to obtain lasting freedom, we must begin by changing our habits and lifestyle. We have emphasized in the past two days that we needed to renew our commitment to place at the heart of life our interpersonal relationships, especially those with our family and closest relations. This can guard us against the tactics of the devil, who often lay down his traps among our relationships, to create heavier baggage and stronger bondage.
The devil takes joy in deceiving us by hiding among every little detail of our lives, especially those that appear to be “good” or insignificant.
Therefore, we cannot let our guard down in our interpersonal relationships. One of the keys is our mode of communication and attitude of interacting with others. Interacting with people around us with an inappropriate attitude and mode of communication will have a profound negative impact on our relationships, as well as impose a heavy emotional burden on the individuals involved.
In the conversation between Martha and Jesus, Martha said accusingly, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me” (ref. Luke 10: 38-42).
Martha’s tone is laced with accusations against Mary, and at the same time, pointing a finger at Jesus. Her attitude is clearly judgemental. Doesn’t this bear the mark of the devil’s usual tactic of incitement? From Adam’s accusation of Eve, and Eve, the serpent (ref. Genesis 3:1-13), carrying through generations until the end of the world (ref. Revelation 12:10). This method of communication, characterized by mutual blame, is rooted in our selfishness and defensiveness. When we attempt to justify ourselves through blaming or accusing others, we are guilty of lifting ourselves by degrading others. In more serious situations, the accuser may even attempt to denigrate others in order to inflate his/her reputation.
Though such accusatory behaviours have a wide range of degrees of severity, all of them are manifestations of our self-centredness and negligence of the needs and feelings of others, all of which are reprimanded by Jesus. Let’s not become the accuser by first, learning from our Father’s mercy and compassion that doesn’t judge nor condemn.
Otherwise, we may never be able to get out of the bind even if we invest a lot of time and sweat into our interpersonal relationships; we may actually aggravate the situation!
In the Gospel of Luke, Chapter six, verses thirty-six to thirty-eight, Jesus said,
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back”.
May we let the face of our merciful and gracious Father shine through us in all our interactions and relationships with others.
‘If you judge people, you have no time to love them.’
In your past interactions with others, have you ever made accusations against others or faced accusations yourself? How did that end? How did that make you feel?
When you interact with someone who has empathy, how do you feel? Does it strengthen your relationship with that person?
In what areas can you improve your habit and mode of communication with others?
Merciful and gracious Abba Father, I thank you from the bottom of my heart that You have blessed me through different relationships. For this, I praise You and give thanks! You allow all the ups and downs in these relationships so that I may grow and benefit from these experiences! Grant me Your eyes to see my family and friends as You do, a merciful and an empathetic heart like Yours to act kindly towards others. Let me reject my self-centredness; help me to walk in the shoes of others and understand their needs through their eyes. May I become a blessing to others in all my relationships. For this I pray in the Holy Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.