By Sister Marietta Wethington
A short time ago we celebrated the great feast of Christmas. Actually, in our Catholic tradition, it is still Christmas. The season officially ends with the celebration of Epiphany on Jan. 6, the 12th day of Christmas.
I once read a striking reflection on Christmas being about giving and forgiving. I had never thought about it in those terms. We know Christmas is about giving – the giving of gifts, of cards, of best wishes and giving of our hearts. We keep lists of all those to whom we want to give cards, gifts and good wishes.
One of our first questions to family members, friends and co-workers is often, “What did you get for Christmas?” Less often do we ask “What did you give for Christmas?” Most of us have probably never asked, “Whom did you forgive?” I surely have never asked that question.
Christmas is a season of love, but often it is also a season of hurt. Sometimes family members or friends ruin Christmas for each other. Is there someone who did that for you? Is there someone for whom you ruined Christmas? What kind of forgiveness needs to occur?
Maybe we need to keep a new kind of list beginning this January – a list of those people we want to forgive. Ask yourself:
Who has offended me that I have not yet forgiven?
With whom do I continue to be upset?
Whom am I avoiding?
Perhaps these need to go on your list of people to forgive.
Then there’s a second list – the names of those I need to ask to forgive me. Again, ask yourself:
Whom have I injured through thoughtlessness, neglect, anger?
To whom have I spoken hurtful words?
Against whom do I hold a grudge?
Go with Angela to the feet of Jesus.
Recall the words Jesus and Angela spoke about forgiving and living in peace.
Jesus taught us to pray: forgive us … as we forgive…
Jesus modeled forgiveness when, hanging on the cross, he asked God to forgive those
who tortured and killed him.
Angela instructed us to live in harmony, to be bound one to another, to spread peace and concord wherever we go and to be to all a good odor of virtue.
If we do all those things, we will be forgiving people.