Readings and Reflection for March 11 (Friday in the First Week of Lent)

Assumption University

A Delightful Lenten Journey

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Different meanings behind a word

I have been in a religious community for 15 years, but I have never, ever treated my brothers as Raqa. I didn’t even understand the meaning of that word, so yesterday I had to check the dictionary. This word is derived from Hebrew or Aramean, and it means empty-headed, ridiculous, insane, mad and demented. Wow, there is a lot of meaning in that small word. This teaches us that behind a word there are various understandings. We need great patience to really understand a word.


Sometimes, we don’t pay attention to what we say, especially when we get angry or upset. Checking the meaning of a word in the dictionary is a way of making us think carefully about what we want to say when we cannot control our feelings. How about this idea: when we get angry at someone, we just tell him or her, “I have something to say to you, but I need to check my dictionary first!” Maybe while checking the dictionary on iPhone or mentally, we will calm down and we can talk reasonably with the person at whom we get angry.


This suggestion, focusing on patience, draws us toward another aspect of dialogue. Jesus said: “Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.” If we want to avoid a vicious circle, we have to negotiate, to dialogue with our opponent. The precision “on the way” is very important. We walk together, not face to face, but side by side. We don’t command our opponent to do this or that. Both the opponent and ourselves are guilty and responsible. Both the opponent and ourselves are a part of the problem and a part of the solution.


Only through dialogue and negotiation can we find a better solution to misunderstanding, anger and hatred. Instead of falling into a vicious circle, we are led into a gracious circle, a circle of mutual understanding, of forgiveness and of reconciliation. We can win a war by ourselves but we cannot reconcile with our opponents without their involvement. And we cannot come to a reconciliation without making any concessions. If we remain the same from the beginning to the end of the negotiation, we initiate another kind of conflict. Even though we are the winners, our victory is cannot be called reconciliation!
In Jesus Christ, his eternal Word, God sought to reconcile us to himself. He started the process of reconciliation by sending us his Only Begotten Son. He accepted the death of his beloved Son even though he was not responsible for our sin, our failure and our running away from him. Out of goodness, he made concessions in order to facilitate our access to him. He became the model of every person who works for unity, peace and reconciliation.

Prayer: God, the eternal Word, help us use our words to build up people, not to break them down.

Resolution: Check the online dictionary for the meaning of some words that I often say when I get upset.