Pope Francis writes, ” When a conflict arises, some people simply look at it and go their own way as if nothing happened; they wash their hands of it and get on with their lives. Others embrace it in such a way that they become its prisoners; they lose their bearing, projects onto institution their own confusion and dissatisfaction and thus they make unity impossible. But there is a third way, and it is the best way to deal with conflict. It is the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it, and make it a link in a chain of a new process. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers!’ In this way it becomes possible to build communion amid disagreements, but this can only be achieved by those great persons who are willing to go beyond the surface of the conflict and to see others in their deepest dignity. This requires acknowledging a principle indispensable to the building of friendship in society: namely that unity is greater than conflict. This principle, drawn from the Gospel, reminds us that Christ has made all things one in himself: heaven and earth, God and man, time and eternity, flesh and spirit, person and society. The sign of this unity and reconciliation of all things in him is peace. Christ ‘is our peace.’ (Eph 2:14) Peace is possible because the Lord has overcome the world and its constant conflict ‘by making peace through the blood of his cross.'(Col 1:20″
Unity is greater than conflict. Jesus loves those who seek unity. Often good people disagree on issues. We need humility to admit that we only see some aspect of an issue.We need humility to admit we might be wrong on an issue. It is our pride that makes us think we have all the answers and see everything so clearly.
My spiritual director shared this prayer of Saint Theresa of Avila with me. I think these words of St Theresa can be applied to all of us. St Theresa wrote, ” Lord. thou knowest better than I myself that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody. helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems not to use it all, but thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end. keep my mind from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains; they are increasing, and the love of rehearing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a a growing humility and a lessening of cock-sureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet, for a sour old person is one of the crowing works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talent in unexpected people; and give, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. Amen.”
I love this prayer by Saint Theresa of Avila especially the lines, “Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion…Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.”
Pope Francis said recently in a homily, “When I have a problem I ask the saint ‘Therese’ not to solve it but to take it in her hands and help me accept it.” This comment to me was powerful. How often are we praying to God to solve our problems? God wants us to pray for wisdom, love and mercy and to accept our problems. I love the image of St Therese holding our problems in her hands but at the same time trusting that God has given us the wisdom to find a solution. Do we truly believe that unity is greater than conflict?