The Lord said to Moses,
“Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.
“You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the Lord.” (Lv 19:1-2,17-18)
Today’s first reading is very timely. It seems that we live in a day and age where forgiveness has gone out of the window. No one appears to be willing to forgive. Instead, many people harbor grudges. Those grudges, if left to fester long enough, develop into full blown hatred.
God did not create us to hate. He created us to participate in His love. He challenged us to look out for the good of others. He wanted us to live in peace.
We know that did not work out. If you read the Bible, you can find reference after reference about wars and insurrections, about evils being visited upon enemies, about tragedies being revenged, and about a whole host of ill will toward others. Just because we read about it does not mean that we have to perpetuate it.
For, in each of those cases, God spoke through the prophets and challenged the people to live in peace. In the New Testament, God spoke to us, not through the prophets, but, through His own Son. Jesus had the same message: love, forgive, cherish, nurture.
What has gone so terribly wrong, then, that our world seems to have turned itself upside down? Why is there so much hate in the world? Why do so many not care about the needs of others? Why do we embrace unrest rather than peace?
Is it too late for us? Has so much sin entered the world that we cannot turn around and go back to the Lord? I do not believe that. I believe that there is still hope, that there is still love, that there is still mercy, and that there are still people who have faith and believe in those virtues as well.
As a people of faith, we have to set the example for the world around us. If we want peace, we will have to live as peacemakers. If we want forgiveness, we will have to be quick to forgive. If we want mercy, we must show mercy to all.
To do any of that properly, we must look deep within, for, we must love people as ourselves. If we do not love ourselves, how can we love others? See yourself as God sees you: a wonderful work of creation, a person of beauty, grace, and love.
FAITH ACTION: Pray for those who have wronged you and ask God to give you the grace needed to forgive them.