Homily for Thursday after Epiphany
Over the last few days now, we have been reading through the First Letter of St. John and those readings have been inviting us to reflect on love. How do we respond to the command of the Lord to love God and neighbor? Do we love the Lord with every ounce of our being? Do we love our neighbor as we wish to be loved by others? Today the invitation to reflect on that Christian ideal of loving neighbor is brought to a much deeper level. St. John tells us that we cannot say that we love God if we harbor any kind of hatred or resentment towards others. I don’t know about you, but that can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes.
Throughout our lives – and each of us has experienced this in some way – we have been hurt by others. And, at times, we may have wanted to hold a grudge against those people and maybe even wanted to get revenge on them for what they have done to us. For many, this time of year, the time around the holidays, can especially be difficult because it can bring up a lot of those memories of how others, especially those in our families, have done something to us that has inflicted a lot of pain. And yet, in our first reading today, we are challenged to love – we’re called to love our brothers.
Jesus, in the very moment of his crucifixion, in the moments before He breathes his last breath, utters a prayer: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus is showing us the way to love. It can be hard to do. After all, Jesus was God and we are not. Our human inclination is always to respond out of hurt and pain. But the Lord shows us another way…the way of true love.
Today, I invite each of us to call to mind the one person who has hurt us the most. If we truly want to move past the hurt, we have to forgive. Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door to growth and transformation…it is the key that brings healing to our hearts. Let’s ask the Lord for the grace today to forgive those who hurt us…and let’s ask the Lord to fill their hearts and lives with blessings and grace. If we do that, we will follow the example of the Lord and truly love our brothers and sisters.