One of the most difficult things to do as a human being is to reconcile with someone who may have deeply hurt you. It requires courage to not only forgive them for their actions, but to welcome them back into your heart and truly make amends with them. Reconciliation goes beyond mere forgiveness which is difficult enough in and of itself. To reconcile with someone means that a relationship damaged is actually restored and is now, in reality, better than it was before.
Reconciliation is, therefore, an action. It is an ongoing way of life, nurturing our hearts as time marches on. Without reconciliation, there would truly be no hope. St. Paul is very explicit in this. He says, "Let love be genuine. . .Love one another with brotherly affection. . .Live in harmony with one another. . .Repay no one evil for evil. . .Live peaceably with all." (Rom 12:9-18)
If we allow divisions between us to linger and stagnate, we lose sight of love. We lose the capability to love fully. In a sense, we lose a part of ourselves and are condemned to searching for that part of our soul which we have lost.
To reconcile with someone is first and foremost an expression of courage. There is no guarantee that our gesture of reconciliation will be returned in like manner. If we think it will, we are letting ourselves down. The journey to reconciliation may be plagued with setback after setback but we can never turn our backs on the process if we are to find true happiness. As we reach out to the other party, they may explode with rage or become coldly indifferent. We may become hurt all over again and boldly pronounce that we will never allow ourselves to fall into that trap again. Yet, we must set our feet on a path that may be rough and bumpy if we are to follow the example of Christ who forgave all of us from the Cross as he uttered, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." (Lk 23:34)
Reconciliation cannot be rushed. There are times when the process may take years. Even after the initial reconciliation the process will be an ongoing one. Reconciliation is like opening a window in a dark room grown dank and damp with the sentiments of bitterness and resentment. A cool, fresh breeze blows through the stale environment, cleansing the air and returning it to its original healthy form. Dark abhors the light and reconciliation is shinning a bright light into the darkness of a soul paralyzed by an unforgiving nature. Life takes on a freshness and the heavy weight of unforgiving gives way to the airy feel of an early warm spring day. Reconciliation is hope. It is a must if we are to have any peace in our souls in this life.
The idea of reconciliation seems to be contrary to today's philosophy of every person for themselves. Vengeance is somehow condoned in the wake of hurt. It is selfish, me-centered. We have a right to strike out at the offending party we tell ourselves. The deeper the hurt, the greater the allowed amount of vengeance. And no one, no one, will ever blame you for righting the wrong you incurred in this way.
However, reconciliation is giving. To reconcile ourselves with one who has wounded us is to extend ourselves unselfishly to the other. In doing so, we become examples of the loving Christ who refused to condemn the woman caught in adultery. We look past the offense and into the heart of the other person and there we find their humanity in all its wounded imperfections. In this encounter, the healing aspect of reconciliation becomes apparent. And the reconciliation of God to man is once again symbolically played out.
Reconciliation is healing. The world is deeply wounded. We cannot reconcile with the entire world at once. That takes much time and great faith. However, to those of us who claim Christ as our Savior, we must begin this moment; not with the whole world but with one another for that is where the reconciliation of the world must naturally begin. As we forgive and reconcile with those around us, we extend the hand of Jesus to one another who will see us through even the greatest of difficulties.
If we are ever to see peace among the nations in this world, we must first begin at home. We must forgive those whom we love the most and work ourselves outward. We must reconcile ourselves to the fact that without reconciliation, it will be impossible to even come close to what we call peace. We must move toward our offender in love and friendship fully aware that they may not be ready for such a gesture. We must give them time, pray for them, and stand by their sides through the good times and bad.
Remember the stark but stunningly beauty and simplicity of the words of St. Paul. "Live in harmony with one another. Live peaceably with all." (Rom 12:16, 18)