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April 10, 1998     The Message
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0 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 4 Reconciliation: The restorer of peace By FATHER JOHN J. CASTELOT Catholic News Service Jesus' disciples had become estranged from him. Peter had denied that he even knew Jesus, and the others simply had run away when he was arrested. But with their alienation came guilt and tension, enemies of peace. Peace could be restored only through reconcil- iation. It is significant that the risen Christ greeted his fearful disciples with the sim- ple but eloquent words, "Peace be with you" (John 20:19,21). It was he who took the initiative in reconciling them to him- self and to God. Alienation had brought tension; rec- onciliation brought peace, relief, deep happiness. Not only did Jesus restore the disciples to the warm circle of God's love, he com- missioned them to bring this precious gift to everyone by the power of the Spir- it. "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whosesins you retain are retained" (John 20:23). People were free to accept this gener- ous gift or to reject it. The theme of reconciliation is drama- tized in the moving dialogue that takes place with Peter. The favored disciple was in turmoil as a result of his coward- ly denial of Jesus. Three times he had openly, shamefully, denied any connec- tion with Jesus. Peter "went out and began to weep bitterly" (Luke 22:62). His tears now turned to inexpressible joy when Christ gave him the opportu- nity to proclaim his love. Three times he had denied Jesus. Three times the risen Lord now asked him, "Do you love me?" (John 21:15,16,17). This was a clear offer of reconciliation, "Three times the risen Lord now asked (Peter), 'Do you "This was a clear offer of reconcili love me?'" recalls Scripture scholar Father John J. Castelot. wipe out his triple rejection with a CNS photo of "Peter, Feed My Sheep" statues at the Sea of Galilee by an opportunity to wipe out his triple rejection with a triple assurance of love. There could be no doubt about the Lord's love; without it he would never have elicited Peter's protestations of .love. This note of reconciliation sounds through all the resurrection accounts. Notice how Paul concludes the first part of Romans with the summary pro- fession of faith in the risen Christ, "who was handed over for our transgressions and was raised for our justification" (Romans 4:25). And remember as you hear those words that to be "justified" is to be reconciled. Paul continues with these words: "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). To be "justified" is to be restored to a loving relationship with God and thus, reconciled, only God can risen Christ that Paul says bluntly, been raised still in But Christ onciled us. And Father Castelot is author, teacher and How actions pave the way to healing at By ANDREW and TERRI LYKE Catholic News Service Sometimes the most difficult people to make up with are the ones we're closest to: family members. Somehow the stakes seem higher, the affront more appalling when the trespasser is among our inner circle of loved ones. Yet we know that healing and recon- ciliation with these people are vital to our well-being, emotionally and spiritu- ally. And often the first step toward recon- ciliation comes in the form of an action, not words. Though saying "I'm sorry" helps, sometimes the words don't come. Some families develop other ways to say "I'm sorry." And while Saying "I'm sorry" is good for the relationship, demanding these words as the only valid ways of apolo- gizing closes off family members from many different ways of entering into a healing process. Sometimes verbally apologizing is too easy and doesn't communicate the sin- cerity needed to begin the healing process -- one best initiated by concrete actions. Arlene Casey of suburban Chica- go, a wife of 36 years and mother of two adult sons, says: "One way to do that is to perform some service Bill can easily do for him- self, such as refilling his coffee cup before he gets out of his chair to do it. Or maybe picking up his favorite ice cream, not mine, at the store. Or doing a chore he usually does. Anything that reminds Bill that he is far more important to me than any disagreement. 'I think most of these disagreements come from pride. A little humble service helps to put things back on track." In Andrew's family such actions tend to center around food. Andrew's father wasn't very good at saying "I'm sorry." So Dad ini'tiated a ritual in lieu of an apology. He'd bring home ice cream. Dad would buy several pints of assort- ed flavors and they'd sit and eat ice. cream together, Dad and Morn, and all seven children, who could not com- pletely understand what was going on between Mom and Dad, but thoroughly enjoyed the treat. As teens, Andrew's sister Lila and he one day got into one of their usual sib- ling spats. However, this one took a very different turn. In her anger, Lila threw a shoe at him and caused a minor injury to his head. Standing before the bathroom mirror looking at the blood trickling from his head, Andrew and Lila made a silent vow never to do this again. It was the last of such fights. However, their silent vow demanded something more than just not fighting. They actually began to treat each other with extraordinary kindness. One evening Lila was preparing dessert for Andrew and herself while the other siblings were present. It was clear that she was being extra nice to Andrew. It was a beginning of a new bond between them, one of taking care of each other that took their relationship to a deeper, more mature level. In all the examples cited, reconciliation and healing began not from words but from action. Such action is transforming and allows the participants to enter into a new relationship. Healing ily is more tionships. It relationships to die better become formed and able to begin life . The Lykes ministry in nity for the