Bernardo M. Villegas
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Love Letter From Pope Francis (Part 3)

          Another enemy of peace and joy within the family (and in a business enterprise) is irritability and resentfulness.  This is a reaction of an interior indignation provoked by something from without.   Pope Francis writes; “It refers to a violent reaction within, a hidden irritation that sets us on edge where others are concerned, as if they were troublesome or threatening and thus to be avoided.  To nurture such interior hostility helps no one.  It only causes hurt and alienation.  Indignation is only healthy when it makes us react to a grave injustice; when it permeates our attitude towards others it is harmful.”  From his decades of pastoral care of married couples, Pope Francis gives a very practical advice about how to make peace in a family when it is threatened by quarrels and disagreements: “And how am I going to make peace?  By getting down on my knees?  No! Just by a small gesture, a little something and harmony within your family will be restored.  Just a little caress, no words are necessary.  But don’t let the day end without making peace in your family.”  What a practical advice also to managers who have to pacify quarrels within an organization.  The best antidote to the “grudges” (sentimiento or hinanakit) so common among Filipinos is a little gesture, a tap on the shoulder, a sincere smile showing repentance, an apologetic glance.

          Love forgives.  This is the very special message during this Year of Mercy.  We Filipinos have to make a special effort to forget the offences we have suffered from others because it is a weakness of our culture that we keep grudges for a long time, even through several generations.  The opposite of resentment is forgiveness, which is rooted in a positive attitude that seeks to understand other people’s weaknesses and to excuse them.  Jesus is the ultimate model.  After being torn to pieces by his torturers, He was still able to utter “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  Yet, as Pope Francis complains, we keep looking for more and more faults, imagining greater evils, presuming all kinds of bad intentions, and so resentment grows and deepens.  If this happens in marital relations, every mistake or lapse on the part of a spouse can harm the bond of love and the stability of the family.  The resentful spouse is a “fault counter.”   Family unity and harmony can only be achieved and perfected through a great spirit of sacrifice, a willingness to forgive, to understand, and to forget offences.  This is possible if we elevate our love to a supernatural level and consider God’s love for us.  If we accept that God’s love is unconditional, that the Father’s love cannot be bought or sold, then we will become capable of showing boundless love and forgiving others even if they have wronged us.  Otherwise, our family life will no longer be a place of understanding, support and encouragement, but rather one of constant tension and mutual criticism.

          By his personal example of being understanding and forgiving, the CEO in a business organization can also foster unity among his managers and workers.  He should be aware of divisive or contentious issues that can cause resentment within the organization and should nip in the bud any factionalism that may develop.  By constantly reminding all that they are united by the same mission which goes beyond the maximization of profit and includes a desire to serve society in one way or another, the business leader can act as father and mother of a family in which the members are quick to forgive and forget offences committed against them.  This culture of understanding and forgiveness can be nurtured by the appropriate mentoring and coaching that should be increasingly practiced in the business world.  Especially if the majority of the people in the organization are Christians, they can be reminded that “we ourselves have had the experience of being forgiven by God, justified by his grace and not by our own merits.  We have known a love that is prior to any of our own efforts a love that constantly opens doors, promotes and encourages.”

          Love rejoices with others.  We should avoid like the plague the toxic attitude of those who rejoice at seeing an injustice done to others.  Love knows how to rejoice at the good of others, when we see their dignity and value their abilities and good works.  Such joy at the good fortune of others is incompatible with the attitude of those who are always comparing and competing, even with their respective spouses, so that they secretly rejoice in their failures. This undesirable condition can easily be the product of a highly competitive environment in which even husband and wife are in the game of upmanship, trying to outdo one another in obtaining a higher position or a larger salary.    If we fail to learn how to rejoice in the well-being of others, and are obsessed with our selfish needs, we condemn ourselves to a joyless existence.  As Jesus said, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”  It is a great joy to a family member when he knows that when something good happens to her, the others will be there to celebrate it with her.  Within a business organization, this joyful atmosphere is reinforced by the practice of celebrating the successes in various fields (professional, academic, athletic, etc.) of the members of the organization.  Awards are given to the celebrants and all share the joy of victory.

1. Then the final lines:  Love bears all things; believes all things; hopes all things; endures all things.  Pope Francis refers “bearing all things” to the use of the tongue.  Someone who loves is able to hold one’s peace about what may be wrong with another person.  It implies holding judgement, checking the impulse to issue a firm and ruthless condemnation. As St. Josemaria always advised people, “If you cannot say something positive about any person, keep quiet.”   Especially in the gossipy culture we find ourselves in, this is difficult to follow.  Being willing to speak ill of another person is a way of asserting ourselves, venting resentment and envy without concern for the harm we may do.  It is easy to forget that slander can be a grave sin; it is a grave offence against God when it seriously harms the good name of another person and causes damage that is hard to repair. Holding one’s tongue is one of the hardest sacrifices we can offer in the name of love.   Married couples joined by love speak well of each other, they try to show their spouse’s good side not their weakness and faults.  To build a successful and humane organization, managers must do their best to help the people under their supervision avoid the “culture of gossiping and griping” about others in the same organization. What should be encouraged is the practice of “fraternal correction” through which one corrects the fault of another in private, without any attempt to humiliate.  This is a practice that is biblical in origin.

          Love believes all things.  To believe in this sense is to trust.  This means that we do not have to control the other person, following every step lest he escapes our grip.  Within the family, love sets free, it does not try to control, possess and dominate everything.  This freedom leads to independence, an openness to the world around us and to new experiences.  It can only enrich and expand relationships. The spouses then share with one another the joy of all they have received and learned outside the family circle.  When one feels that he is trusted, it is easier for him to be sincere and transparent.  On the contrary, those who know that their spouse is always suspicious, judgmental and lacking unconditional love, will tend to be secretive.  They will try to conceal their failings and weaknesses, and will pretend to be someone other than who they are.   This trust has to be extended to the children.  Even if there are times when parents are deceived by their children, the reaction of the parents should not be a complete loss of trust.  By continuing to show that they have not lost their trust in them, the parents will be able to help their children gradually open up and confide in them.  Love never gives up.  For comments, my email address is