To bear wrongs patiently

To bear wrongs patiently is one of the seven spiritual works of mercy. Most of the spiritual works of mercy are directed outward for the spiritual benefit of another person, such as to instruct, comfort, counsel or admonish. This spiritual work is directed inward for one’s own spiritual benefit. It is much like a virtue. Christians should have this quality and increase in it.

Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael Van Sloun

To bear a wrong patiently is not to agree with it. When it comes to wrong, we must not be silent or inactive in the face of injustice, submit to violence, remain in an abusive relationship, or acquiesce to mistreatment. It is contrary to Jesus and the Gospel to turn a blind eye to wrongdoing. Evil is to be opposed and not to be tolerated.

Nevertheless, life is unfair. Each of us has been wronged in some way. It may have been a long while ago or it might have been lately. The damage is done. The offense has had negative effects and been hurtful. The pain has persisted. Oftentimes little or nothing can be done to fix it anymore. We are left to endure the hardship.

Wrongs come in many ways. We may have been resisted when doing good, treated harshly, cheated, slandered, lied about, falsely accused, handed a wrongful judgment, abandoned by a friend, persecuted, physically harmed or permanently injured. Jesus knows our troubles. He was wronged in all of these ways, and he bore the wrongs patiently.

To bear a wrong is to carry a hardship; to do so patiently is to do so for the long haul, and Jesus shows us how to practice this spiritual work of mercy.

Pray. It is impossible to carry serious wrongs on our own. God’s help is necessary. Jesus went to Gethsemane to pray before he had to bear his most grievous wrongs, and an angel from heaven was sent to help him (Lk 22:43). God will help us, too.

Say little or nothing. When Jesus stood before Pilate, “he did not answer him one word”(Mt 27:14). Jesus bore wrong without a moan, complaint, angry outburst or derogatory comment. If we hope to bear a wrong patiently, usually the best way to do so is silently.

A sense of resolve. Jesus carried the cross himself (Jn 19:17), and he did so with fierce determination. It was his burden to carry, and he did so with tremendous grit and willpower.

Love while burdened. As Jesus carried his cross, he was not preoccupied with himself and did not engage in self-pity. For Jesus it was never “poor me.” Instead, as he bore his wrong, he reached out to the women of Jerusalem with love (Lk 23:27-31).

Compassion. Jesus realized that the people who wronged him were flawed. They came from broken homes, had poor role models, did not receive moral training or were the victims of abuse themselves. Jesus observed, “They know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). Jesus did not lash out at the people who wronged him. He bore wrongs patiently as he granted them the benefit of the doubt, did not return evil for evil and extended forgiveness.

Humor. The Gospels do not say that Jesus had a good sense of humor, but reading between the lines it is clear that Jesus was a man of joy, and that he had a cheerful, bright, positive outlook. Humor breaks tension and lightens the load, and it helps a person to bear wrongs patiently.

Father Van Sloun is pastor of St. Bartholomew in Wayzata. Read more of his reflections at CatholicHotdish.com.

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Category: Year of Mercy