A university professor writing in a diocesan bulletin recalls a meal he had with an old classmate from high school he hadn't seen for some time.
Friend 1: Did you have a dinner engagement yesterday? You look tired.
Friend 2: I guess I drank too much liquor.
Friend 1: You are too caught up in drinking. You need to cut back.
Friend 2: I really don't enjoy drinking.
Friend 1: Why are you then always the last to leave a group?
Friend 2: It's not because I enjoy the booze.
The friend opened up to his companion. " Over the years I noticed that when a person leaves the group we begin talking about the faults of the person who left. We were all enjoying each others' company, laughing and praising each other but once a person leaves it all changes.... I am afraid the same thing will happen to me so I stay around to the end and drink."
His friend was surprised at the remarks. In his group when a person gets up and leaves it's just the opposite, everyone has some nice words to say about the person who left.
The professor was always envious of his friend for all the bonuses that he received in his place of work. Hearing the words of his friend he was thankful for the environment in which he was working. In his environment when a person is not there the words are always kind which is a bonus that can't be exchanged for money.
In many cases, the reason a person doesn't enjoy the company in his place of work, in the group he belongs, or in meetings is he doesn't experience any bonuses from the encounter. Is this not the reason to avoid future contacts when possible?
Isn't this the case also in our church community? What a blessing to be a member of a community without any backbiting. A person when he leaves is missed, and when we enjoy the encounter to the very end.
We are all very sensitive to hurts and enjoy being well thought of and the hurts that we have in community living make for some challenges. We are all a little broken with faults that can develop into conflicts with others. Empathy and compassion and a good portion of humility will allow us to accept the difficulties and to work for reconciliation and peace.
"Treat everybody with equal kindness; never be condescending but make real friends with the poor. Do not allow yourself to become self-satisfied. Never repay evil with evil but let everyone see that you are interested only in the highest ideals" Romans 12:16.