More from that short book of two Harvard Divinity School lectures, From Brokenness to Community, Jean Vanier has a thought on reconciliation. The jumping off part is where he discusses Jesus urging us to love our enemies. He identifies our enemy rightly as part of our common humanity. So often we demonize the other person, but when we concede they are human, we have to admit they are like us, not another species.
To grow in love means that we become men and women of forgiveness, of reconciliation.
When I say that forgiveness is at the heart of community, I do not mean we learn to say simply, “You’re a nuisance but I forgive you.” It means discovering that I too am in part the cause of your being a nuisance, because I have dominated you, hurt you, brought fear up in you or because I haven’t listened to you, or was not open to you. Forgiveness is not just saying, “I forgive you because you slammed the door.” It’s also: “I’m working on changing myself, because I have hurt you.” We’re all wounded people, and so consciously or unconsciously we can and do hurt each other.
What of this? It circles back to our close associations–families, work places, school groups, neighborhoods, and parishes. Are we committed to grow, or do we find ourselves wholly satisfactory in our own eyes?
At the heart of a caring community is forgiveness, one to another. This is a principle of growth. We are forgiving each other because we yearn to grow and become like Jesus.
It comes back to simply this: the imitation of Christ.