I’m shaking my head at the spookiness of Sunday’s readings. Sunday is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Every adult in America remembers where they were that fateful morning which forever changed the USA’s perception of itself. It still continues to alter our lives; for example, what would our economy be like now had we not been fighting two wars these last ten years?
I was in Rockport, Maine at a woodworking school that day. At lunch break, my roommate and I rushed home to see what had happened (no TV in the school) … we were of course stunned. But the payoff came for me the next morning when I opened to the Scripture readings for the day. The Gospel says love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, turn the other cheek. I was SO glad I wasn’t preaching in a parish on the 12th! Who was ready to hear those words?
Well, here we are on the 10th anniversary. The readings for this Sunday … we have Jesus admonition to forgive those who have hurt you seventy times seven, followed by the parable of the Unforgiving Servant. In the First Reading, we have these words: Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD?
Anger towards those who have hurt us is extraordinarily costly. On a national level, in dollar terms, look at the trillions of dollars spent on war the last ten years. On a personal level, held-onto-anger causes strokes, heart attacks, depression, digestive and reproductive problems, and countless sleepless nights. Is it worth it? What does held-onto-anger resolve? Darn little.
Now remember: forgiving does NOT mean forgetting. We cannot and should not ever forget the harm done to us by those who wish us ill. Those things leave deep scars. But let the scars be an invitation to prayer for healing, instead of a reason for calling 9-1-1 because we’ve had a stroke or heart attack!
Love deeply, laugh often, and pray faithfully!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.