Chapter 16 – Bearing the Faults of Others
Bearing the Faults of Others
XVI Bearing With the Fault of Others (click to download pdf)
“If thou canst not make thyself what thou wouldst be, how canst thou expect to have another so exactly to thy mind?” asks The Following of Christ. This question my dear readers, hits the nail right on the head, as we say. Don’t you think so, too? We are all so much that way; we want everybody to have patience with us, to bear with our annoying ways and manners, but we ourselves will have patience with nobody; everybody and everything must be so smooth, as not to give us the least offence. But that is not the spirit of Jesus. Open the gospels and read the life of your Saviour, study it carefully: you will find that, among the many virtues He exercised, this one of patience in bearing with the weaknesses and faults of others shines fort as one of the brightest. What patient forbearance, for instance, did He not exercise towards His apostles! He had them about Himself, nearly day and night, for three years. He takes the greatest pains to instruct them, to explain His doctrines, to lay before them plainly his mission, that He has come to suffer and die for the redemption of mankind. He endeavors to draw them away from earthly pursuits, to fill them with his own spirit, to make them understand the mission on which they themselves are to be sent, to convert the world for Him, to lay down their lives for His holy religion. How dull is their understanding! How wrong many of their notions! How awkward their doings, and how childish, sometimes, their talk! At one time, during a storm on the lake, they wake Him up, saying: “Lord, save us, we perish.” Jesus calls them: “Ye of little faith!” Peter wants to prevent Our Lord from suffering; Jesus gives him a rebuke and a correction. Jesus wants to bless children but the apostles try to keep them away from Him; He tells them: “Let the little ones come to Me, and forbid them not.” The mother of the two Zebedees asks Jesus to permit her two sons should hold the first two places in His kingdom, the one to His right, the other to His left. Our Lord answers: “You know not what you ask.” When Mary Magdalene anoints our Saviour in the house of the Pharisee, the apostles get angry and say: “To what purpose is this waste?” Jesus answers: “Why do you trouble this woman?” The disciples quarrel amongst themselves as to who was to be the first and greatest in Christ’s kingdom; the Master teaches them that he who would become the lowest in humility would be the highest before God. After His agony in the garden, Jesus returns to His apostles and finds them sleeping. He told them: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation!” and now He says: “What! Could you not watch one hour with Me?” Judas betrays his Master; Peter denies Him, in spite of his liveliest attestation of fidelity; the other disciples all forsake Jesus, and run away when He is taken captive by the soldiers; yet Jesus has patience still, and bears with the weakness of His Apostles. This is Jesus, our Model, whom we must follow. On the special occasion, when Jesus wished enter the city of Samaria, and the inhabitants refused to receive Him, tow of the apostles, James and John, said: “Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” Jesus answers: “You know not of what spirit you are! The Son of Man came not to destroy souls, but to save! “Do you understand now what is the spirit of Jesus? And will you try, as followers of Jesus to acquire this spirit for yourselves? “Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of heart,” says our divine Model. The saints had this same spirit. They always had great patience with others. Whenever anything happened that was naturally annoying, they let it pass by and took it all quietly. I will give you an example. St. Ephrem had been fasting for several days, when he told his servant to cook and dish up a mess of vegetables. He was sitting in his room, waiting. The servant comes along, carrying a bowl of cooked vegetables, but, alas! As he enters through the door he stumbles and falls. The bowl is broken to pieces, the mess of vegetables poured out on the floor. What do you think now? Did the Saint bristle up and get angry? Did he stamp the floor and scold? Did he say: “You confounded simpleton can’t you take more care?” Ah, no! Ephrem was a saint! The servant, poor fellow, turned quite pale from fear, but his master remained quiet, and said in a pleasant tone: “Don’t be disturbed, my dear son. Since the pottage will not come to me to be eater, I must go to it.” And the saint sat down on the floor, and scraping together the spilled vegetables, ate of them as much as he could take up. You may have to live with children that are cross, and ill-mannered, and hard to get along with; or you may have to reside in a neighbourhood where people, grown and children, are very coarse in language and rough in manners; or you may go out into the country to visit your relations; and you find the folks, especially the children, so ill-bread and vulgar; in short, you will often have to deal with person who have all kinds of curious ways and strange manners, hard to get along with. What then? First: remember that you have your faults, as well as others. You must not expect others to be perfect, or to become so in a short time, when you are far from being perfect, or to become so in a short time, when you are far from being perfect yourself. Secondly if you can do anything to improve your surrounding in ways and manners, you may try it; but do so with a good intention and in the right way. About all, as the Latin proverb says, “Fesina lente,” which in English, “Make haste slowly!” Rome was not built in one day. Take it slowly. Give yourself and others plenty of time. A spirit of gentleness and patient forbearance will do wonders, whereas rashness and impatience will only spoil and waste. “Study to be patient,” says Thomas à Kempis, “in learning the defects of others, and their infirmities, be they what they may, for thou hast many things which others must bear withal.