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December 1989

'Do not grumble, brethren, against one another.' (James 5:9)

For a better understanding of the Word of Life that we are offered this month, we must take into account the circumstances that prompted it. Difficulties were becoming apparent in the Christian communities to whom St James addressed his letter. There were scandals, acts of social discrimination, a selfish use of wealth, exploitation of workers, a faith made up of words rather than deeds, and so on. All of this gave rise to resentment and bad feeling between people and created an unhappy atmosphere throughout the community.

Do not grumble, brethren, against one another.

Even at the time of the Apostles one could see what we too see in our communities today - that often the greatest difficulties in living our faith are not those that come from outside, that is, from the world, but really those that come from within. Difficulties arise from particular situations that occur from within the community or from attitudes and actions of our brothers and sisters which are not in accordance with the Christian ideal. All this generates a feeling of uneasiness, distrust and dismay.

Do not grumble, brethren, against one another.

But if all these contradictions and inconsistencies, which may be more or less serious, stem from a faith that is not always enlightened and from a love of God and our neighbour that is still very imperfect, our first reaction as Christians should not be one of impatience and intolerance but the one Jesus teaches. He asks us to have patience, understanding and mercy which help to develop the seed of goodness that has been sown in us, as is explained in the parable of the wheat and the darnel (Mt. 13:24-30; 36-43).

Do not grumble, brethren, against one another.

So how can we live the Word of Life this month? It presents us with a difficult aspect of Christian life. We too belong to various communities -the family, the parish, associations, our working environment, our local borough. Unfortunately, in these communities there may be many things which we feel are not right: attitudes, ways of seeing or doing things and inconsistencies which make us suffer and make us feel like rejecting others.

These then are many opportunities for us to live well the Word of Life for this month. Instead of grumbling or condemning, as we will be tempted to do, let us be tolerant and understanding. In so far as it is possible, let us also correct one another as brothers and sisters. Above all, let us give a Christian witness by responding to any lack of love or commitment we encounter with a greater love and commitment on our part.

Chiara Lubich

 

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