Resolving Conflict

May 24, 2024
Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
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Jesus came into the district of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds gathered around him and, as was his custom, he again taught them. The Pharisees approached him and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. Mark 10:1–2

Notice the contrast above. The crowds gathered around Jesus to listen to Him. Clearly, they were coming to faith. But the Pharisees came to Jesus to test Him. They did not come in faith; they came with jealousy and envy and were already seeking to trap Him. The question they proposed was a trick question, not an honest attempt at communication with our Lord. They presumed that however Jesus answered the question, some people would be offended. The Pharisees were ready to stir things up, since so many were flocking to Jesus. Also, the Pharisees wanted to find fault with Jesus’ answer so as to show that He opposed the Law of Moses. But Jesus’ answer was perfect.

Much could be said about the content of Jesus’ answer. He clearly supports the indissolubility of marriage. He states that “what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” He adds: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” For those who have suffered through a divorce, it is important to prayerfully ponder this teaching from our Lord. It is also important to work with the Church Tribunal to examine the marriage in the light of truth so that a determination can be made about the validity or invalidity of the marriage bond. With that said, the approach that both the crowds and the Pharisees took toward Jesus also teaches us an important lesson about communication, not only with God but also with one another. This is a lesson that is especially important for married couples to learn.

Think about your own approach to communication. When you struggle with conflict with another, how do you resolve it? How do you bring your questions and concerns to your spouse? The crowds came to Jesus to listen and understand. The reward was the gift of faith in that they received a deeper knowledge of Who Jesus was. The Pharisees, however, came to Jesus with the intent of finding fault with Him. And though it is obviously foolish to take this approach with our Lord, it is also foolish to do so with another, especially a spouse.

Use the above approaches of the crowds and the Pharisees to think about how you come to others with your questions and concerns. When there is some conflict or misunderstanding, do you come with an open mind and heart, seeking to understand and resolve the question? Or do you come with a loaded question so as to trap and find fault with the other? So many conflicts in life with others, especially among spouses, could be resolved if the goal of any conversation was simply to understand the other person, not trap them or find fault with them. This is hard for many people to do and requires much humility and openness.

Reflect, today, upon any relationship with which you are currently struggling. Reflect, especially, upon whether your approach to communication with that person is more like the crowds or more like the Pharisees. Commit yourself to the approach of seeking open and honest communication and you will find that this commitment brings true resolution, peace and unity.

Lord of all truth, You desire that I always come to You with sincerity, honesty and humility, seeking resolution to every internal question and conflict I face. You call me to approach others with this same depth of communication. Give me the grace to always seek the unity and truth that result in peace of mind and heart. Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured images above: Christ among the Pharisees By Jacob Jordaens, via Wikimedia Commons