Like Agathon, appease his brother’s resentment

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What do the Desert Fathers tell us to guide our spiritual life, in the very concrete circumstances of our lives? Today, Saint Agathon, who died in 370 in the desert of Egypt, evokes the case of a difficult relationship. Forgetting the evil of others is possible, but how can you soothe your resentment?

aint Agathon, the great hermit of the desert of Scetus, could not rest without having peace of mind. He said: “I never went to sleep with a grievance against anyone and, as much as I could, I never let anyone go to sleep with a grievance against me” (Agathon, 3). His first sentence clearly echoes Saint Paul ( Eph 4:26 ): “Let not the sun go down on your anger. » A salutary recommendation, because if we go to bed with our soul on fire with anger, we will undoubtedly sleep badly, dwelling on the wrongs of which we believe we are victims, imagining more or less nasty responses. The next day, it will be hard to get rid of it and above all resentment will be installed in our life as a lasting fact, producing poisonous fruits. Cutting the thread as quickly as possible is the remedy, even if it’s hard. Find our freedom, and to do so call on happier memories of the time when the adversary was not one. Beg the Lord to remove the temptation to take revenge, even indirectly.

Dealing with the resentment of others

But Agathon doesn’t stop there, it’s now about not letting anyone go to sleep with a grievance against us. Much more difficult, that. We can ultimately forbid ourselves from resentment and anger, but the other person thinks what he wants, that doesn’t concern us. If he’s mad at me for something and I don’t think I’m at fault, that’s his problem. I didn’t do anything wrong, calm down! But he will not calm down, he will suffer, he will have nightmares, he will be tempted to do evil.

Here we find a commandment from Jesus  : “If you come to present your offering at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there in front of the altar, and go first reconcile with your brother; and then come and present your offering” ( Mt 5:23-24 ). We not only have to forget our resentment, but to face the resentment of others, even if we believe that we are not wronged towards them. How is it possible ?

Accepting not having the right role

First let’s remember that our consciousness may not be as clear and pure as we think. We have undoubtedly not committed an objective wrong, but we have perhaps done everything necessary to exasperate the other, who knows less than us how to dominate himself and whom we have made play the bad role, by draping us in our offended virtue or our ironic calm. And this is already a lack of charity , of which we must urgently blame ourselves so that our brother does not fall into sadness.

And then if we really don’t know what bug has stung him, we’ll have to ask him kindly what our fault is, in a way that doesn’t humiliate him. And there everything will come out, the true as well as the false, the exaggerated no doubt. If we discuss, if we try to set the record straight, to justify ourselves, there will be new tensions, endless explanations which will not bring peace. So it is better to give in, to accept not having the right role, to save our brother and restore joy to him. With hindsight, he will (perhaps) himself recognize that he exaggerated. But the essential thing is not there. As Jesus said: “You have saved your brother” ( Mt 18:15 ).

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