Bridge to human relationship is renewed and rebuilt afresh at each and every moment of the encounter. There is no readymade bridge that connects hearts once and for all. One should not expect or think of a readymade bridge for every moment of life comes as a surprise pack with million alternative possibilities. At a given moment we choose one among the million possibilities which perhaps appeals to us as the best or most suitable from our point of view. Whereas others might consider our option to be foolish and nonsensical for even they are open to million possibilities. It is this option of ours that make us unique and at the same time distances us from others. If such is the case then is it possible to bridge the gap between hearts.
Bridging hearts become slightly easy when people in encounter arise from same locality, culture, economic, or occupational background. For instance, people belonging to same culture get acquainted faster than those with others. Again, doctors understand each other’s handwriting and language very easily, which for others seems to be totally strange. In this connection I would like to draw our attention to two groups of people emerging from two different backgrounds and the difficulties they face in bridging their hearts: the shepherds (priests and religious) and the sheep (faithful of the Church). There seems to prevail a constant misunderstanding and tension between these two groups of people. They don’t seem to understand each other. Shepherds feel the need of guiding the sheep whereas the sheep feel that the shepherds lack basic qualities of guidance. There seems to be a big chasm between these two groups of hearts and for which building bridges seems to be pretty impossible for we do know how to use the tools available at our disposal.
A few months ago I encountered a lady from our parish who bluntly expressed to me saying, ‘you priests will never be able to understand the difficulties and problems of a family life. Most of you have left your homes at early age, brought up in a fairly protected atmosphere and you have never really met with family difficulties.’ Moreover, she added, ‘you priests often command at the faithful or even behave rudely towards them when they fail to fulfill your expectations. There are rare priests who care to ask for reasons before bursting out.’ I have heard such words many times and even you will hear if you care to listen to them. Each time I hear such comments I find very difficult to digest the fact that even after going through so many years of formation and receiving best education possible, we find so difficult to understand and relate with people entrusted to our care. We might not agree to such accusations but the fact remains.
Misunderstandings and tensions are bound to arise when people with two different types of life style, mindset, interests and aptitude attempt to work together. There will also be a communication gap. For instance, a priest might greet his faithful with a heart out on his sleeves but instead of jumping and saying halleluiah… they reply lifelessly. In such situations, priest might think that either the faithful are nuts or they do not understand him. If a priest holds such an attitude then it is inevitable that the hearts will get distanced gradually and there will be not enough tools to bridge the gap. Hence, we are called to live with greater love and understanding wherein hurried judging seldom gets its place. We must be builder of bridges and for this we need to train and personalize the tools required to build bridge to unbridgeable hearts. The tools include love, mercy, compassion, goodness, forgiveness, understanding, honesty, and many other qualities that Jesus gives his disciples to practice. If we do not become the embodiment of love and forgiveness then practically every day or every week we will be coming face to face with our sheep or faithful but with heart miles apart.