Do you pray “for” or “against” things and people? It’s an interesting question. If the Lord is for us, one might recall, who can be against us? We are speaking here of how we approach praying. We often pray in a way that is “negative”: for instance, to not see a certain family member who causes disruptions, or to rebuke him or her, instead of praying to love that person, overwhelming the situation.
Not always should we chip away at stone, hammer at it, blast through a wall. Too frequently, that’s what happens when we involve ourselves in the minutiae of political and other debate. Instead, we can rise above it. We need not always take immediately to the gunwale — though there are certainly times for spiritual warfare, and for admonishment. Often, we can win a “battle” by simply deciding to be a transmitter for the goodness of Christ. This penetrates the “wall” like a laser.
Every family has a person who is uncomfortable to be around, who may be contrary, who may even be insulting, who causes unpleasant emotions, who may harbor a spirit, who may be outright bad; we are called to emanate goodness; we are called to empty ourselves of the pride and anger that cause us to react wrongly or to dread a situation.
Humility and lack of fear are the barriers we need. In this way are we forming a real shield around ourselves. In this way do we gain peace (especially at the vacation time of the year). If our emotions and “selves” — our egos — are too involved, this is when we suffer. It is “radioactive.” There is a negative chain reaction. This is when things that are said have a lasting sting.
The nettle doesn’t settle when we are humble — at least, not for long; it loses energy if we don’t respond in the negative. We are never going to achieve perfect isolation from forces of darkness; it certainly is wise to avoid evil when possible. But in situations of family and friends, we sanctify ourselves by enduring the irritations we all face. We sanctify ourselves in our families.
Don’t necessarily dread that particular person (though there are situations and people best avoided). Look on it as a good challenge from God. Rise to it. Rise above it. View it as a test. See it in that way and when you succeed you’ll experience an elevation of spirit that comes from growth in God.
[Footnote: Today’s Mass reading: “All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ” — Ephesians 4]