Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Don't Take Offense

From one of my pastor's, Fr. Joe Gatto, homilies: We are all called to take ourselves out of the center of the circle, or to allow Jesus to do so, and place Him there instead.

From spiritual directions of our dear Franciscan, Fr. Francis: Write our hurts in the sand where the winds of forgiveness can blow them away. Carve our blessings in stone to keep them always before us.

So, Fr. Francis, what should we do when we are offended? His answer was to first discern whether they even meant to offend you. Are they even aware of what they are saying or doing? It is rare that intent is malicious.

This has been rolling around in my soul. What keeps bubbling up is: Don’t Take Offense. If you do, what you receive is offense. Instead, receive the wound, the hurt, and then give it to Jesus. If you are offended, you are in the center, you are not seeing the offender’s wounds and you cannot pray for them. You end up ruminating on the wound, or even the perceived wound, instead of moving forward with grace that can help the offender.

Jesus was not offended by His rejection, trial, scourging, being spit upon, being humiliated. He was not offended by His Passion and Death. He was wounded throughout, but always kept before Himself our need for forgiveness, mercy, atonement and salvation. He alone had the right to be offended, yet He forfeited that right for us.

When someone does something offensive to you, receive the hurt, give it to Jesus, ask for the wisdom to see the offender’s wounds and offer the suffering and a prayer for their conversion and healing. In this way you receive grace, forgiveness and mercy yourself. Choosing the other way, being offended, all you receive is offense and you still do not avoid the hurt.

My response to Fr. Francis’ thoughts on discerning intent is yes. This view will allow you to offer suffering and pray for the offender, who is himself or herself a wounded lamb. However I would add that someone can unintentionally wound you. A drunk driver can be as deadly as a crazed killer, malicious intent aside. The wound, the hurt is still real and still needs to be given to Jesus. Don’t take offense, receive the wound and offer His Mercy. This is how we receive His Mercy and His Peace.

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