9th February

Gentle Persuasion

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15: 1.

St. Molua who died in Ireland on 4 August in the 7th. century, was noted for using gentle persuasion rather than strictly imposed rules, as this story illustrates.

A bard named Conan, who was quite unused to manual labour, joined Molua’s monastery in the Slieve mountains. On the first day Molua personally accompanied him to a thicket of thistles that had to be cut down. On that day they cut down just one. On the second day they cut down two, and so it went on.

Molua was not afraid to reprove a person when necessary, but he always tried to do it with gentleness, and in God’s way, knowing that God always has the last word. `Once the king of Leinster arrived with four hundred of his men and demanded that they be instantly fed. Molua patiently explained why that would be difficult. The king, however, insisted, and food was brought as quickly as was possible, no doubt causing considerable disruption to the life of the community. The very first morsel the king tasted stuck in his gullet for twenty four hours, preventing him from either eating or sleeping. The king learned his lesson without anything more having to be said. From that time on he became thoughtful and generous towards the community.

Lord, help me
to take the time to sit in the shoes of the other person
to start from where they are
to listen to what they feel
to refrain from the too hasty judgement or the too ready answer
to smile and be gentle
and yet not to collude with the slipshod
but to prayerfully see a thing through.