January 30.  “If only.“  How often don’t we say this to ourselves or to others? “If only I had found time to make peace with estranged family members, or friends.”  “If only I had the strength and courage to make peace with God and with the Church.”  One old man sat alone, thinking, but somehow he never found the courage to reach out to his son to make peace.  He just sat alone day after day and no one came to advise and support him. When they brought the news that his son had died his grief was intense, but it was mixed with guilt. “If only..” he kept saying until a counsellor came, sat and listened and invited him to share his feelings – in the new synodal way – and so she was gradually able to bring him peace and healing.  

Reflect, share. Scripture: After Absolom’s death a stranger came to inform David, the king. He said, “may the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil, be like that young man. (although his son had rebelled ) the king was deeply moved and went and wept.  “My son, Absalom, would that I had died instead of you.”  Read 2 Samuel 18- 19. Pope Francis: The Church will have to initiate everyone into the art of accompaniment which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other. The pace must be steady and reassuring, reflecting our closeness and compassionate gaze which heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life. EG 169.    Pray: For families to learn and practise conflict resolution skills and so avoid break-down and violence.  Choose appropriate action.