The other day, when my wife opened the front door, she saw a plastic grocery bag containing a loaf of banana bread and a small piece of paper on which is written: "Peace Offering. I placed flowers on flower bed. OK. PS. Hope we can always be brothers in Christ. I love you. John. Thank you for your kindness."
John is the grass cutter whom I have written about in two previous blogs. He is a former Catholic who does not share my belief about honoring our Blessed Mother the way we do. Mary's shrine occupies a prominent position on our front landscape.
The previous day, when I handed him a check for his work that morning, I noticed an uncut swath of grass around one side of a flower bed. He said flower beds are not part of his job but he ran his weed whacker anyway which went inside the flower bed and cut down a yellow lily plant. I said he had just cut down a flower plant, not a weed.
When he said it would come back anyway, I replied that I was surprised he did not know since there are a couple of the same plants in the adjacent Mary's shrine.
I was taken aback when he muttered distinctly: "Nitpicking Catholic."
That greatly offended me. I pointed out to him that I had the right to expect his work was done properly and it is not nitpicking. More importantly, his work had absolutely nothing to do with my religion and that those two words from him were disdainful about my faith and thus hurtful to me, especially because they were uttered by one who I considered a friend and I thought respected me.
He tried to justify it by saying there are also "nitpicking Baptists."
I did not accept that and explained why.
Realizing the nature of his deed, he apologized. I accepted the apology only after expressing to him why he went overboard on that and making him realize the hurt he had caused me.
That incident with John made me think about whether I should still continue with that little business relationship with him. The truth is I had been allowing him to cut my grass only because his mowing lawns at his advanced age showed he needed a source of income. Some people can do a better job for the same price. I really did not have to deal with him anymore.
But no. That, I thought, was not the Christ-like thing to do. After Our Lord forgives, He does not cut off His relationship with us. I am not greater than Christ.
John can come and cut my grass again. I am sure he has learned a lesson. He had asked for forgiveness, and I believe he was sincere. I gave it to him. But not because he gave me a loaf of banana bread as a peace offering, or a pot of plants which I do not want anyway.
The friendship stands.
I know it is the right thing to do.
It is clear in the prayer Our Lord Himself taught us:
". . . and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."#
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35-35)