Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Reflection by Duke Yaguchi
In this letter from Paul, he is asking for a friend to help intervene in a disagreement between two women, Euodia and Syntyche. First, I wonder how did this disagreement come to the attention of Paul? Did one of them beseech Paul to take a side? Or are the women influential to society or the church and thus their argument took on a heightened importance? Whatever the reason, Paul offers a solution.
He wants everyone to proceed in gentleness and align their hearts by bringing their concerns to God through prayer.
Have you ever noticed that when you're in an argument, and voices are raised, very little is accomplished? Sides are taken. Heels are dug in. People get more solidified in their thinking and hearts turn into stone.
When I was going through my divorce with my first wife, I remember bracing myself before every encounter. My jaw would tighten, my muscles would become taught, and I would begin protecting myself emotionally by building up a concrete wall around my heart and mind and soul as to not lose in the upcoming combative argument, no matter how trivial or benign the topic. I wonder if that's how Euodia and Syntyche viewed each other?
I'm much better approaching situations with gentleness. I hold no ill will towards my ex. My muscles don't tighten when I see her or hear her name. It's better for me and everyone else around me.
Paul is taking the approach I think Jesus would have, by not taking sides, but reminding everyone to pray and align themselves with God. If everyone would do that, our arguments would become fewer and less severe. Gentleness could prevail. And we would progress through our differences with a calm and healing approach.
Dear Lord, there is a lot of anger in the world. Protesting. Rioting. Killing. Let us consider God's will. Let us bring our lamentations in prayer to God. Let us align our "sides" with God and become gentle mediators to our differences. Amen.