By Theodore, sx
Many people around the world are astonished that their relationship or friendship breaks out easily. And when it happens it causes deep frustrations and leave people having to deal with the situation, as a fact that they cannot run away from. In life, what matters most are not the great deeds which we do to our friends and relatives, but the attitude of joy and open heart even in the small endeavors. There are three things that if we are attentive about, they can help us avoid many unpleasant situations. Those three things are: to apologize, to thank and to greet.
By apology I mean to ask for forgiveness, to recognize that we have made mistakes, being sorry and do something so to re-establish the relationship that had been damaged. Apologizing has to come sincerely, because it requires our recognition of our evil acts. The forgiveness implies two steps: The first is to admit when we act badly against others. In the Gospel according to Matthew 5:23-25, we find that step when Jesus said, “So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” The second step is related to the one who is offended. If your friend, parent, son, husband, wife is coming to apologize for his/her mistakes, misunderstanding, you have not to judge or question him or her why he or she acted badly; the best attitude is to forgive without condition. In the Gospel according to Luke, Jesus gives us the best disposition to have when he narrated the parable of the prodigal son. “I will get up and go to my Father, and I will say to Him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands… But while he was still far off, his Father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:18-20)
In these two steps, we have seen that forgiveness requires two attitudes: first from the offender and second from the offended person. In reality, it is not easy to apologize even if we are aware that we acted badly. Many think that if they apologize, they will be seen as weak and they forget that pardon brings peace of heart and it can save a relationship, specially when it is about to break out. On the other hand, the offended person usually thinks that if he or she forgives easily, the offender will feel encouraged to continue in the same way. Furthermore, we should keep in mind that forgiveness is not only helpeful to the wrongdoer, but first and foremost to the person who forgives, because it helps both to keep the relationship and to perfect their relationship with God.
With regard to saying “thank you,” we should keep in mind that these two short magic words are not only meaningful but necessary in our living together. In some cultures people might find it difficult to express gratitude with words, however there are always other ways to express it through gestures, attitudes and deeds. Saying “thank you” shows not only that one is grateful for the benefits received but it is also an encouragement to people to go on in the same way doing good. In some cultures around the world such as in Africa, receiving something without thanking is very impolite and disrespectful. A person would easily refuse to help again in the future someone who has failed in the past to express thankfulness. Jesus himself was always thankful to His Father in everything. Before each miracle, hefirst gave thanks to the Father, like for instance in the miracle of the Deaf and Mute. After the miracle, Jesus went to the mountains to pray as we can notice in Matthew 11:25; at that time Jesus said, “I thank you Father Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants.”
In modern societies, this inheritance (thank you) is about to disappear because people consider everything like a right, taking everything for granted, without seeing the need to thank the one who gives. How many children or adults are unable to just say thank you when they receive something? We are not obliged to thank, however by doing it or not, we will show what kind of personality we have. Through the example of Jesus, we are invited also to thank those who act rightly in order to encourage them. When we receive, even if it is our right we should be grateful, thankful not only to the one who gives us, but through him to God who inspired him. How can you thank God for whatever he gives you, if you are not able to thank your brother or sister? How much opportunities people miss because they are not thankful?
Finally, with regard to greeting others, in each culture, people have created their own ways to express it. The way of greeting would be different from one country to another, but the meaning remains the same. It can be by shaking hands, kissing, hugging, bowing or nodding; the important thing is to recognize the presence of others and not be indifferent to the brothers and sisters. When we greet someone, we make him or her alive because it would be impossible to greet a dead person. We are not obliged to greet anyone, but by doing so, we can discover what personality we have.
When Jesus sent the twelve for the first time, he asked them to be respectful greet the people they would meet along the way. He said: when they welcome you into their house, first of all greet them,” Peace be with you”. When the angel Gabriel visited the Virgin Mary, he began by greeting “Hail Mary.” After his resurrection and before sending the twelve around the world, our Lord Jesus began always his conversation with “Peace be with you.” In the Bible, we have many examples in the same line. But, what does greeting mean today in our modern societies? We can say that greeting is not a significant thing in industrialized societies, because of selfishness and individualism. Greeting is like a key, it helps us to open any door and to create good relationships. Even our prayer is a kind of greeting God. If we do not greet each other, how can we greet God that no one has ever seen?
We are invited to be attentive about small but meaningful things for our living together in society and even as a community. Saint Therese of the Child Jesus stated that doing a small thing is just a small thing; but our fidelity in the small things, makes them great. These three simple habits of apologizing, giving thanks and greeting people are about our rapport with people, however they are sure ways of strengthening our relationship with God.