Larry was waiting in line to pay for his items, but the line was moving very slowly and eventually came to a dead stop. There was someone asking the checkout person many questions about using coupons and then there was something about a 50%-off coupon, but that the coupon had expired yesterday, and on and on. It seemed that the two people were just talking in circles and for Larry the clock was ticking and time was being wasted.
Larry was getting very aggravated and he started thinking to himself, “What’s going on with this person?” Then he started making judgments about the person in his mind. He was beginning to label this person even to what political party this person might belong to. By the time that he paid for his own items his blood pressure must have been through the roof.
When Larry got home he started telling his wife what had happened and he shared with her all the judgements he’d made about the person who had held up the line. And in the middle of this his wife stopped him and said, “Do you hear yourself? You don’t even know this person and you’ve labeled her even down to her political party! Do you realize how divisive and dismissive you sound?”
Division vs unity. What is it we want to bring to a situation? I think this is something we have to ask ourselves? This question is most important considering the extremely divisive times we find ourselves in now.
Let me give an example from history. Remember what the Germans did to get Imperial Russia out of the First World War? They found a way to sneak Lenin into St Petersburg via a special train. They knew that he would cause much division to a country already a political mess. And so Russia was pushed into a terrible revolution and dropped out of the First World War.
Division is not the way of Christ, nor was it the message of St. Paul when he wrote his first letter to the Corinthians. He writes clearly of unity: As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many are one body, so also Christ.”
The evil spirit is always interested in tearing down what Christ does. So, the evil spirit sows division. Spreads lies and misinformation. We are tempted to think and speak badly of others, even those we don’t know. We are also lead by the evil spirit to think that we are right and everyone else is wrong. This happens in families and in our communities, in business and in churches. He keeps us fighting among ourselves, full of resentment and anger. And as a result of this, our effectiveness in building up the body of Christ, the church is severely diminished!
So, remember that division is the devil’s work, but reconciliation and communion is Christ’s work. Sometimes, the ordinary circumstances of life, like being in a held up line in a store, can become opportunities for us to exercise the virtue of patience. Do we want to give in to the temptation to think badly of a person, or to try to be charitable and acknowledge that we just might have the situation all wrong?
St. Paul’s imagery conveys that we need one another and we should try to support one another in Jesus’ name. We pray for the grace to be builders of unity and respect in our circumstances. We can have disagreements and even different outlooks on life. But through those discussions we must never stop respecting one another. We start at home and then do our best in our communities and neighborhoods.