At Mass last Sunday, this was the first reading:
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.”
While I’ve received the call to “love your neighbor” loud and clear every time I’ve heard and read this passage before, there was a different message that stood out this week.
“…cherish no grudge against any of your people.”
Cherish no grudge. I never considered a person could “cherish” holding a grudge and yet when I heard the lector read that phrase, the words touched me in a way that only the truth can. Sometimes it is more comfortable to cling tightly to a grudge and its predictability than to let it go or to seek reconciliation and make yourself vulnerable to more pain.
Not that I look to Hollywood as a beacon of realistic consequences, but so many of the television shows and movies featuring revenge highlight what a dead end it is to hold on to anger and resentment. It never fails, after the individual achieves whatever revenge he was seeking, like say avenging someone’s death, he ends up empty and alone. And then doesn’t know what to do with the rest of his life because seeking revenge and holding on to the grudge was all consuming.
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” – Anonymous
Have you ever cherished a grudge? How did holding onto it impact you?
I can never stay angry at someone for long or I end up making myself sick over it, complete with physical symptoms. Not fun or worth it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a challenge to let go of past hurts. One thing that always helps me is thinking about the phrase we say during the Our Father.
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who those who trespass against us.”
I prefer God immediately forgive and forget all of my wrongdoings. Whenever I catch myself holding onto something, I ask myself if I’d want God to do the same to me.