Get Things Settled

Luke 12:54-59

In the First Reading Paul urges his listeners to live in a manner worthy of their call: to live in humility, patience, and to bear with one another (forbearance).  In the Gospel, Jesus urges his listeners to get things settled, solve issues in the here and now rather than to allow issues to remain unadjudicated until the time of the ultimate and final judgment.


This reminds me of a time when I went to a ballgame with my son.  As I recall, our seats were way up on the upper level of PNC Park.  When we arrived at the upper level, we asked the usher at the portal to point us in the direction of our seats.  After receiving our instructions, we then proceeded up the many steps.  When we got to what we thought were our seats, we found a man and a woman sitting in them- an occurrence that I’m sure has happened to all of us.  What made this situation noteworthy, however, was the exchange that followed. 


With our tickets out and exposed to this fellow, I asked him what seat numbers were assigned to him.  Without much thought, he said that he was in section 323, and that because our seats read section 322, we were in the wrong section.  He told me that we needed to go over one section to be in the correct seats.  Well, having just received the instruction from the usher, I wasn’t real confident of his assessment.  None the less, given the sureness of his tone, we did as he said.  But to get to the section where he felt our seats were located, we needed to pass in front of him since our supposed seats were in the same row, only a section over.


What was interesting was that when I then said “excuse me” to pass him to get to where he wanted us to go, he said, “you’re not going to make me get up and move all of my stuff to let you through, are you?”  You see, he had a big container of French fries on his lap with other assorted refreshments by his feet, so our trying to get past him would have been an inconvenience for him. 


So with that, we needed to go back down the steps and back up the other side.  Well, that journey carried us right back to the usher that I had originally gotten my instructions from.  So I took the opportunity to approach him again, this time, asking him if he would take us to our seats.  So, we followed the usher to our seats, and you might suspect, they were located in the same spot that we had just come from. 

After finding out directly from the usher that he was in fact in the wrong section, my friend with his French fries in his lap was a picture of sheepishness, embarrassment, guilt and shame.  


I would think that if he took the opportunity to reflect on this incident after it had all played out, I’m sure that he would have wished that he had done things a little differently. 


As we think about it, most times when we act in a manner that is contrary to the way Paul invites us to in the first reading: when we are self-focused instead of humble, when we’re short with someone instead of patient, when we’re dismissive of the other person instead of being forbearing, we usually don’t pay an immediate price for that behavior.


When we violate those virtues Paul described when dealing with each other, we’re usually not in any real danger of having those actions come back and immediately bite us in the butt as it did in the case of my friend with the French fries.  His behavior made him look much worse than simply being guilty of sitting in the wrong seat. Eventually, the light of truth shown forth as the ultimate judgment was rendered from the person with authority, the usher, who was the final judge.


As we say on occasion in the Penitential Act, Jesus came to reconcile us to one another and to the Father. As the Gospel shows us, better to resolve our differences between us in righteousness, better to get things settled in the here and now than to let it go until the final judgment.


So as we continue in our prayer today, inside and outside of Mass, let us pray that we grow stronger in our faith to allow God’s grace to penetrate us more deeply.  And with that grace, we will become inspired, and will inspire others, to grow in those important virtues of humility, and patience, and forbearance!


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