We are—all of us—sitting on a lot of unresolved rage. Thomas Aquinas defines the deadly sin of anger in his typically pithy manner as an irrational or excessive desire for revenge. Every one of us has been hurt by someone else, aggressed, unjustly harmed, insulted, perhaps to an extreme degree. And so, naturally enough, we harbor a desire to respond in kind.
Hurt? Betrayed? Resentful? ‘Forgiveness is the best medicine’ is an age-old adage and nothing is as effective as forgiveness for healing deep wounds. To forgive and be forgiven makes every day a new day.
Mortal sin is like deliberate solitary confinement. If death comes and one has not repented, his heart is forever sealed – he will have excluded himself from enjoying infinite truth, goodness, beauty, life, and happiness.
As unpleasant a prospect it may seem, love of enemy is the foundation of our Christian faith and the pursuit of which can only lead to an increasingly grace-filled life.
Are we ready to travel the same path as Jesus? Do we have the mental and spiritual strength to counter animosity and rejection with love and forgiveness? As true disciples, we must embrace ignominy, if that be our lot, with absolute joy. Today’s Gospel forces us to question our status as “followers of Christ.”
The sacrificial love of the Cross resulted in the Resurrection for Jesus. The same applies to us in a world where love has been denigrated to the status of just an emotional experience. We need to be ready and willing to practice charity in truth at whatever cost to bring back any semblance of peace and sanity to our world.
Shame can deal a debilitating blow that can invalidate our very existence. Yes, Jesus defeated death, but Peter’s shame remained due to his betrayal of Our Lord. He felt unworthy to be one of Jesus’ disciples, let alone their leader. Peter is a perfect example. Jesus, therefore, not only offered His forgiveness to Peter, but also restored his identity, not only as “fisher of men,” but also as shepherd of the Church: “Tend my sheep, feed them!”
Do we promulgate faith-based and hope-filled narratives? Or do our stories evoke despondency and despair? We must keep well in mind that the nature of our narratives shapes our communities.
The Resurrection is a truth that is beyond the grasp of mere human understanding. It takes submission to grace that allows us to overcome the empty tomb of despair and pain to embrace the serenity and peace of Easter.
The rite of the Sacrament of Confession has evolved over the years, yet the essential elements have always been the same.