I realize that the older I get the more I just need to say what I think, especially in circumstances where I feel strongly about something. I'm not sure it's always the most attractive quality, but I just don't know what to do about it. When I was younger, it was easier to swallow my words, and just kind of go-along. Now, I feel like I just don't have the patience for it. Again, I'm not necessarily saying that this is virtuous or holy all the time. Sometimes, I hear the words coming out of my mouth and I am frustrated that I just didn't bite my tongue. What's more is that the words are often devoid of emotion or anger. It's more like I just need to say it. I'm not able to stop it. For a raging introvert, it's pretty odd.
Jesus had a healthier sense of this quality. While most evidence suggests that the Pharisees as a group were essential in preserving the law and did some extraordinarily holy work, some acted hypocritically. Jesus had no patience for it, and he just called it out. I used to think as I read passages like today that maybe Jesus really didn't like these people. However, now as I look at it through my current lens, I just don't think that is the case at all. I believe he probably loved these people immensely. However, he heard the words coming out of their mouth, and perhaps he just couldn't help himself. "Well, of course you are wrong. I love you, but you are so wrong about this."
I think this is a quality in conversation that is desperately needed today. As Catholics, the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, the gospels and the example of Jesus give us clear guidelines on how the world should work. Clearly, that is not happening throughout our world today. Furthermore, people we love might say things that are completely contrary to those ideas. Do we have the courage and the skills to respond like Jesus? Can we say the words and convey the feeling that, "of course I love you, but you are just so wrong about this?"
That is hard. I know I can't always do it. I think that is what we are called to do today. Jesus, please guide us to have the courage to love those we disagree with.
—Steve Ruemenapp serves as director of community formation, and is a husband and father of four.