I did not have a missal with me so I could not follow along during the readings. Sometimes, that is better, since it forces me to listen more intently. The first reading was from Paul's letter to Timothy. It struck a chord with me as it spoke about being a patient teacher and correcting with gentleness. I resolved to reread it when I got home. When I tried to review it at home, I was surprised to find it was not the assigned first reading at all. Today is the Feast of St. Irenaeus and the prescribed first reading comes from the book of Amos. I have no idea why we heard from the Paul's letter to Timothy. However, it was a very good reading for me to hear.
Turn away from the passions of youth, concentrate on uprightness, faith, love, and peace, in union with all those who call on the Lord with a pure heart. Avoid these foolish and undisciplined speculations, understanding that they only give rise to quarrels; and a servant of the Lord must not engage in quarrels, but must be kind to everyone, a good teacher, and patient. He must be gentle when he corrects people who oppose him, in the hope that god may give them a change of mind so that they recognize the truth and come to their senses, escaping the trap of the devil who made them his captives and subjected them to his will. (2Timothy 2:22-26)
I struggle with this. My first inclination is defensive. I want to expel those in error rather than enable their conversion. Yet I trust in Christ's mercy, so I must also be merciful. That does not mean I tolerate or condone that which is opposed to Truth. It does mean that I have to trust that with God, all things are possible, and conversion is always the goal no matter how unlikely it seems. Therefore, I must not do anything that poses an obstacle to that conversion. My demeanor should always be one of love and all correction must be motivated by love and not by the pride of being right.