Pope Francis has spoken of how complaining can be harmful to our lives and that we should strive to avoid it as best we can.
At a recent Mass he referred to the disciples in the wake of Christ’s crucifixion, including the two who were met by the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus. The Pope suggested that all of the disciples were afraid after Christ’s crucifixion and that they were sad and complaining. He said “the more they complained, the more they were closed in on themselves: they did not have a horizon before them, only a wall.” The disciples were losing hope because they had expected the redemption of Israel and it hadn’t yet come, and it was now three days since Jesus’ death on the Cross.
The Pope continued: “and they stewed, so to speak, their lives in the juice of their complaints and kept going on and on and on with the complaining.” And then he warned of the dangers of too much complaining saying “I think that many times when difficult things happen, including when we are visited by the cross, we run the risk of closing ourselves off in complaints.”
Like the disciples on that road, Jesus is with us all of the time yet we don’t recognise him. We fail to see him right there next to us because we are too busy thinking of how wrong things are, how badly or unfairly we have been treated, and we despair at the wrongdoings of others.
The Pope, trying to appreciate why people turn to complaining said that “complaining seems safer. It’s something certain.” Yet he warns us that complaining is harmful and detrimental to our wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around us as it “dashes hope”, before finally pleading for people not to “get into this game of a life of complaints.”
Looking around us today, is it not all too evident that each of our lives are based on complaint after complaint? If we aren’t inclined to complaining ourselves, aren’t we constantly exposed to it in our workplace? Don’t we witness it even in the relative innocence of a shop queue or in the minutes that flow by as we wait for a late bus or train? Aren’t the news channels on television just one big complaint?
The world today is obsessed by complaining and society is all too readily grossly intolerant of even the most simple little mistake or error. Love and compassion was Jesus’ way, and that is the stark choice we have when we feel the need to turn to complaining. Do we stick to the ever popular status quo of society and show impatience and intolerance; or do we try to change attitudes and show more patience and understanding? The Pope’s warning is a red flag for all of us.