Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

It's Too Dangerous

by Ann Cavera


A man we know has two adult children, a son and a daughter. His son and daughter are quite different and, since childhood, they have never been able to get along. The daughter recently told her father that if he continued to have contact with her brother, she and his granddaughter would no longer speak to him.

We shook our heads as the man related the pain of being caught between his son and daughter, though we know this kind of thing happens far too often. How can people within the same family inflict so much pain on each other? Are we guilty of causing God the same kind of pain when we insist we must be the "beloved" ones and God must favor us above his other children - the ones we don't like?

Recently, while reading the scripture story of Jacob and his family, we were reminded that troubled families have been with us since Genesis. At the beginning of Jacob's story, he takes his brother Esau's birthright and blessing.

The family saga continues with the story of Jacob's son Joseph being sold into slavery by his own brothers. Eventually, through Esau and Joseph's forgiveness, family rifts were mended and God brought healing out of treachery.

Painful things still happen when someone insists they are "right" and someone else is "wrong." It even happens in churches. We know of one parish leader who had a difference of opinion with some parishioners. She insisted that since she was "right" and they were "wrong," she would never set foot in their place of business again.

We understand that whenever the name of the business or those parishioners is mentioned, she continues to announce her hurt and remind everyone she will "never set foot in that place again." How did we lose the message of forgiveness we learned in Genesis?

The key to letting go of pain caused by the people we love seems to lie in whether we have enough humility to recognize our own flaws. Through the gift of humility, we understand we are no better or worse than anyone else, regardless of the outer image we try to project. Holding on to our feelings of superiority, nursing anger and demanding God choose us above others only feeds the fires that divide us.

One day our grandsons were riding in their car seats in the back seat of our car and they were having some sort of conversation between them. This happens so frequently now that we weren't paying particular attention to what they were saying. However, our ears did perk up when Jamie softly told his brother, "No, it's too dangerous."

We never did find out what prompted his remark, but his words have stayed with us. Can we afford to keep making war, cutting off parents or punishing any of our "brothers and sisters" while we insist that we are God's favorites? In the words of our grandson, "No, it's too dangerous."

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.