Dealing with our differences and conflicts

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

THE great lesson we can learn from the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin (cfr. Lk 15,1-10) is that with the unavoidable differences and conflicts among ourselves, we have a golden opportunity to be like Christ and develop the true charity that knows how to love everyone in spite of whatever.

Like Christ, we have to take the initiative to understand everyone, to be patient and willing to suffer for whatever it takes to have that all-inclusive kind of love. Far from turning us off or distancing ourselves from the parties concerned when we experience these differences and conflicts, we should all the more be interested to be with them, to help and love them in whatever way we can, always with God’s grace.

We have to be wary of our tendency to keep grudges, resentments, critical and negative thoughts, mental reservations, etc., against anyone when we are confronted with these differences and conflicts. We should try our best to rid ourselves of them no matter how small or insignificant we think they may seem to us.

Only love that channels the love of Christ for all of us can handle this condition when we have to deal with our unavoidable differences and conflicts. When we find it hard to have that love, we have to beg God for the grace, and little by little develop the appropriate attitude, virtues and spirit.

Obviously, some struggle would be involved here. And it can be of the severe kind. But as long as we go to God for help, we can manage to win and conquer those human and natural weaknesses and limitations that hamper our power to have the charity of Christ.

Let’s remember that when we react negatively toward these differences and conflicts, it would be as if God is showing us those weaknesses and limitations that we need to correct and transcend with God’s grace. In a sense, we should be welcoming of these differences so that we can know ourselves better and have the chance to become more Christ-like as we should be.

We should bring these issues in our prayer, always begging God for light and strength.  We should remind ourselves that as St. Paul told us, as long as we are with God, all things will always work out for the good. (cfr. Rom 8,28)

The ideal condition of our heart is that of being light and bearing nothing other than pure love and understanding for everyone. As such, we can live what St. Paul described how true charity should be: “Charity is patient, is kind, does not envy, does not act wrongly, is not inflated, is not ambitious, does not seek for itself, is not provoked to anger, devises no evil…” (1 Cor 13,1-6)

So, we just have to learn how to be sport and game with everyone without compromising the rules of the game, so to speak. Foul is foul, cheating is cheating, and the appropriate penalties should be given, but the game has to go on.

Just the same, we have to be ready to get dirty. There is actually no game where the sportsman does not get dirty or does not experience extreme tensions and suspense.

In this regard, we have to realize more deeply that we need to be strong and flexible ourselves. Thus, we have to undergo continuing formation, just like those good athletes who never fail to practice daily and to go through endless training exercises.