Gregory the Great: At Variance

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Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

“Differently to be admonished are those that are at variance and those that are at peace. For those that are at variance are to be admonished to know most certainly that, in whatever virtues they may abound, they can by no means become spiritual if they neglect becoming united to their neighbours by concord… Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord… The one hope of our calling, therefore, is never reached, if we run not to it with a mind at one with our neighbours… Those who are at variance are to be admonished to take note that they offer to God no sacrifice of good work so long as they are not in charity with their neighbours.”

Gregory the Great (c. 540-604) in The Pastoral Rule, Book 2, Chapter 22, Admonition 23. Gregory is the third of four Doctors of the Western Church.

What does Gregory want everyone who desires to give generously and to grow spiritually to remember?

In short, go back to the heart of the Sermon on the Mount (see today’s Scripture), and don’t bring any gifts to God while you are at variance with your neighbor. Get reconciled. But how?

This is relevant as I am struggling with a close relationship at variance. Perhaps you are too? Gregory would say that alignment is located “in charity” with each other or seasoned with grace.

We must extend mercy and forgiveness to one another in kindness. Even as we have received mercy and forgiveness with kindness from God.

God wants our hearts right with Him and our with neighbors before we bring any gifts. After we reconcile those relationships with grace, we are positioned to give generously.

From that place, the gifts that flow through us are the blessings from God that come from being in alignment (rather than at variance) with His design for us and our neighbors.