My Dear Good People,
Today Jesus places before us in the Gospel at Mass the observation that we may have more moments than we realize in which we are less than holy. Patterns of sinfulness, we call them. In this case it’s about the way we treat others (Mt. 5:20-26).
He tells us that we should not come before Him at the altar if our consciences are not clear regarding the way we have interacted with our brother or sister. But that’s not always easy. Sometimes we fail others without realizing it at the time. If we take a few minutes once or twice a day, say at noon or in the evening to ask ourselves one short question we might come to see ourselves in the light of Jesus’ love. Here is the question:
Have I created a hurtful memory in anyone today?
Many of us have some memory of our own that pops up to haunt us at odd times: words that were spoken to us once in our lives that cut to the quick. A teacher’s comment, a co-worker’s put-down, a relative’s remark that we just can’t forget, plays in our minds like an old DVD and takes on a life of its own within us. Or it could have been a slight: not having received an invitation to a gathering, or getting the cold shoulder from one we have always trusted. It continues to haunt us all these years, and no one even knows we’re still hurting. We’ve probably long ago made a resolution never to do such a thing to anyone else. It just hurts too much.
Sadly, though, we have done it, so we try to envision the people we’ve encountered lying down to rest: are they troubled by something we did today? Unfortunately we can’t un-say anything we’ve said. But we can consider a healing word or a gentle gesture tomorrow that shows we are sorry. That’s if we are even aware of it. We ask God to show us so we can repent. And if there’s no opportunity to offer an apology? Then offer a prayer for healing of the memory that we’ve created.
This isn’t a bad way to live, this ebb and flow of sin and repentance. We don’t do it deliberately, but it’s the human condition. So asking this question daily can give us an insight into the way we treat others. And if we do it regularly, we will come to be more careful of the things we say or do or fail to say or do. After all, Jesus said, Whatever you do to the least of My brethren You have done it to Me.
Jesus, have I created a painful memory in anyone today…? Ah, yes. Then forgive me. Bring her healing. Let me begin again to be like You. Then I can bring my offering to the altar.
While I’m at it, I make a conscious decision to forgive anyone who has hurt me today. That’s the least I can do…. Good night, Jesus.