Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Neighbors.
I wish Hallmark would print a Christmas card offering that sentiment. I’d like to send it to two people in particular in California who need to be reminded what Good Will means.
These two guys are lawyers, and you can imagine what happens when lawyers live next door to each other and they don’t like each other. (For the record, I know that all of you wonderful readers who happen to be lawyers know what Good Will means and that you incorporate it into your daily practice.)
For two years, these California lawyers have been greeting each other with lawsuits, countersuits, restraining orders and other legal salvos because of (get this!) the sound a basketball makes when it bounces off macadam.
I wish I were making this up.
Lawyer A was trying to take an alleged nap while Lawyer B was playing alleged basketball on the other side of the alleged fence with his son. So Lawyer A, desiring to give his neighbor the opportunity to share Good Will, sprayed them with his garden hose.
Lawyer B responded in his own fashion — he sued. So Lawyer A did what was logical. He sued Lawyer B, his wife, his children, their psychologists and the psychologists’ lawyers, the cat who lived down the road and the manufacturer of the allegedly criminal basketball hoop.
To accumulate evidence for the courtroom, Lawyer A videoed his neighbors shooting the basketball into the said allegedly guilty hoop. Lawyer B videotaped Lawyer A videotaping Lawyer B. Perhaps there’s material here for the world’s funniest viral videos.
No one came out the winner, except the basketball, which was retired to a quiet shelf in the garage. And the cat, who got a good laugh watching the grown men videoing each other’s camera lenses.
Both lawyers refused out-of-court attempts to settle because their opponents “made unreasonable demands.” They said this just to keep fighting, because everyone knows it’s not unreasonable for Lawyer A to sue for $2 million in assorted damages due to injury “in his health, strength and activity.”
What with the basketball ending up so expensive, I think it should be taken from the garage shelf and given a place of honor with a little, engraved plaque next to it stating, “It wasn’t my fault.”
There could be a happy ending to this story, but these lawyers would interpret it as another “unreasonable demand”: forgive. St. Paul said in Ephesians, Chapter 6, that the real enemy is not our human neighbors, but evil spirits who, according to the first letter of Peter, Chapter 5, seek to destroy us. Jesus was born into human form so he could bring us power over the True Enemy. The only way we can win, he taught, is to forgive those who trespass against us.
It’s difficult. But it brings peace much faster than videos of the neighbor’s camera lens.
In the meantime, be wary of basketball hoops. Yours might be one of those nasty ones that swish the basketball through so fast, it bounces off the macadam in such a way as to deliberately cause a garden hose to cool you off.
Reflection questions for family discussion:
Why is it sometimes hard to forgive others? What can we do to become more forgiving, even if the person who sinned against us isn’t sorry.
Lord Jesus, you taught us to forgive again and again. When we choose to forgive someone, we set ourselves free from their unpleasant hold on us. Come, Holy Spirit, and help us to let go of our stubborn desire to seek revenge. Help us to forgive others readily.
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© 2017 by Terry Modica of Good News Ministries