Monday, December 22, 2014
Giving, Receiving, and Hating
“Tom, thank you for the gift, but you didn’t need to do that,” Ron greeted me at the 7-11. And as I poured my morning coffee he said: “That one’s on me” --- again. My gift to him, like the others I give, is but a small token to say: “I remember you.” Like the Christmas cards sent to old “friends” whom I haven’t seen in 30 years, or the presents sent this Christmas to some people whom I have never met --- and never will --- yet still, I remember them as parts of my life --- good parts.
As I drove to church I recalled how Sr. Peg was someone who remembered me in the same way. I was a good part of her life, and I thought again of all the others --- perhaps many of whom I don’t even know (but God does) --- who have benefitted from my life. And then, suddenly, I thought of the ones who didn’t benefit from my life. This Advent season is a time to prepare, to recall the blessing of Christ’s birth, but I think I often forget WHY He came. His coming was a good thing, but He chose to come because of a bad thing --- me and my sins. Even as I often forget the good things and people in my life, like Sr. Peg, I also forget the bad. Advent is a good time to dredge up some of those thoughts we might sooner forget.
Oh, it’s easy to recall the bad things done to me, and the bad people who entered my life. I have seriously tried to forgive them, but something still attaches itself to my soul, a bitter taste which won’t go away. Some bad people and some bad events I will never forget, and I sometimes recall them with anger, and perhaps a bit of sadness --- for me.
They hurt me.
I know I should try more sincerely to forgive and forget, but it is hard. But what is perhaps even more difficult is to recall those people against whom I have sinned --- that bad thing which we tend to forget which is also associated with Jesus’ birth. He had to come to save me, from my sins.
Even as Sr. Peg fondly remembers some good things I had done for her (which I forgot), I am sure there are some people who remember some bad things I did to them (which I also conveniently forgot). How many are there who recall me, like I recall those bad people and bad times of my past? While I may have led some souls to God, how many may I have led to a life of sin, away from Him, or by my being unable to deal with them have not given them the chance to know God better? How easy it is for me to forget that some of those bad people I avoid, Jesus came to, talked to, and sat and dined with.
Each day I say a prayer for those people whom God brings into my life, whether I am aware of their presence or not, that for them I might be an instrument of His Peace. Perhaps my prayer should, at least sometimes, be amended to include those against whom I sinned, that HE might be an instrument of His Peace to them --- where I have failed.
I do regret my past sins, and the people (myself included) whom I perhaps hurt. But then a thought comes to me: what about those who sinned against me, those who hurt me, those people whom I can’t seem to forget (or forgive) fully? Even as I now regret my past sins and pray for those I offended, might not those who sinned against me, unknownst to me, be praying those same prayers for me? Might not people who have sinned against me have begged God’s forgiveness for their sins? And what likely was His answer?
And am I to be less forgiving than the God to Whom I pray at each mass: “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”?
There are those who entered my life who were good people, and those who were bad. There are those whose life I entered as a good thing for them, and those who I influenced badly. To all I must give forgiveness, and for all I must give thanks, for all these people God has put into my life --- for his GOOD REASONS, even if I don’t understand them.
This Advent, there is much to consider, to prepare for His coming, which is a very good thing, because in all things and in all ways, He loves me. By His actions He came to tell me and show me how much He loves me.
I must prepare, and make myself a fitting birthday guest at His party, celebrating all He came to do for me.
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When I arrived at church this morning I was surprised to see the priest, who then offered the morning mass, despite the bulletin’s saying there would be only a communion service this day. Little blessings are always there for us. : - )
And as I drove home afterwards, the radio spoke of the hate in New York, and the people there who were hurt and can’t seem to forget --- or forgive. It spoke of the people who hurt others --- and didn’t know they were doing so. And it spoke of the people who are trying their best to love their neighbor, who their neighbor fails to appreciate, or remember their loving gifts of the past.
We live today, but our life isn’t only about today. We try to do good, but forget we sin. And we tell God we forgive, but don’t look into our continuing anger. He came to forgive our sins --- those things we tend to forget. We want to love, but also forget that real love “means never having to say you’re sorry.”
We have much to pray on and reflect on, to properly prepare for this Christmas, in hopes that we might sincerely say: “And peace on earth and goodwill to men.”