This week the world was focused on Nelson Mandela, the South African hero hailed as a master of reconciliation. He is a Christ figure, someone who is an image of Jesus Christ who is the Greatest Reconciler. During this Advent season we are preparing to celebrate the coming of Jesus in Bethlehem that initiated his reconciling the human race with its Creator. As Christians, we are called to be reconcilers too, peacemakers in our own sphere of influence. The word reconcile comes from the Latin for “to make friends again.” We might be a mediator between two people or groups who are at odds. We ourselves might be involved in a conflict situation that needs healing so that we are friends again.
Recently a young man was discussing two family members who weren’t on speaking terms. He commented that the one who was offended could be big enough to reach out to the one who was at fault. That seems backwards, but it might melt the anger and hurt between the two people. Such a gesture requires humility, a willingness to forgive, and a sincere love.
Smoothing things over doesn’t necessarily require the words “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you.” Actions can do the trick: an invitation to dinner or a play, a gift, or a greeting card.
Jesus taught that if someone has something against us, we need to leave our gift at the altar and first be reconciled. Some families live by the rule “Never go to bed angry.”
Before we celebrate Christmas, it would be good to do our part in promoting peace among men and women and between us and others. This is the right time to make peace between us and God, too, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Then our hearts will be better prepared to welcome the Prince of Peace.
What other reconcilers do you know of? What did they accomplish? What motivated them to act?