As with every month, during this Year of Mercy, I choose a different corporal or spiritual work of mercy and dive into the details. This month we discuss the spiritual work of mercy of bearing wrongs patiently.
Have you ever been accused of something for which you were innocent? Perhaps your spouse blamed you for leaving the dirty dishes in the sink. Or perhaps your neighbor accused you of calling the police on them because of their rowdy party this past weekend. Whatever the reason, we all bear wrongs of others. Yet, do we do it patiently?
Do we look at these incidents and become defensive? Do we feel the need to defend our honor and the truth? Or, do we weigh the situation and come to realize that the grace of peace and harmony far outweighs the need to be right? If the answer to this last question is yes, then we bear wrongs patiently. And when we do so, we receive grace:
While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds…the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. 1
How is bearing wrongs patiently a grace?
When we bear wrongs patiently, we become Christ-like. Christ exemplified this spiritual work of mercy as He hung from the Cross, completely innocent, yet silent. When we take the “heat” for someone else’s failure/sin, we bear wrongs patiently just like Christ. Let’s use the following example to demonstrate the principle:
You and your team are making a big sales presentation at work. During the presentation, one of your staff relays inaccurate information at this meeting that results in senior management making a poor decision. After the resulting debacle has been made public, the Head of the Sales Division looks at you, as the leader of this team, and chastises you in front of your peers for the error. You have a choice: You can either get defensive and blame the staff member, or you can take accountability, and bear the wrong patiently; suffering the consequences on behalf of your team. If you choose the latter, God will grace you with courage, patience and perseverance to endure the suffering/trial.
So, the next time someone takes a swipe at your honor unjustly, weigh the situation and determine what is most appropriate: to be right or to be kind? Many times you will find it is better to be kind.
1 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed., Vaticana: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Print 1997. n. 1473