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Chapter XVI.

How it is that, if our brother has any grudge against us, the gifts of our prayers are rejected by the Lord.

So far therefore is our Lord anxious that we should not disregard the vexation of another that He does not accept our offerings if our brother has anything against us, i.e., He does not allow prayers to be offered by us to Him until by speedy amends we remove from his (our brother’s) mind the vexation which he whether rightly or wrongly feels. For He does not say: “if thy brother hath a true ground for complaint against thee leave thy gift at the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to him;” but He says: “if thou remember that thy brother hath aught against thee,” i.e., if there be anything however trivial or small, owing to which your brother’s anger is roused against you, and this comes back to your recollection by a sudden remembrance, you must know that you ought not to offer the spiritual gift of your prayers until by kindly amends you have removed from your brother’s heart the vexation arising from whatever cause. If then the words of the Gospel bid us make satisfaction to those who are angry for past and utterly trivial grounds of quarrel, and those which have arisen from the slightest causes, what will become of us wretches who with obstinate hypocrisy disregard more recent grounds of offence, and those of the utmost importance, and due to our own faults; and being puffed up with the devil’s own pride, as we are ashamed to humble ourselves, deny that we are the cause of our brother’s vexation and in a spirit of rebellion disdaining to be subject to the Lord’s commands, contend that they never ought to be observed and never can be fulfilled? And so it comes to pass that as we make up our minds that He has commanded things which are impossible and unsuitable, we become, to use the Apostle’s expression, “not doers but judges of the law.”19891989    S. James iv. 11.

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