Sister Chris Kean, OSB
With Lent upon us once again, it is a time to think about repentance and preparation for the coming celebrations of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
I was trying to think of something that would tie in with that theme, but I am aware that we share in this column the Lenten reflections that have been given to us by our sisters during the season. So I don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder who may be writing for this column in the coming weeks. As I was working in our community’s archives, I happened to be cataloging some articles and ran across an article that was written by one of our sisters a number of years ago about reconciliation, and it got me thinking.
One of the things that she alludes to in her article is that the American culture is just not set up any longer for admitting wrongdoing or seeking forgiveness. We tend to operate under the notion that I am right and everyone else is wrong.
This often happens even when the facts clearly prove otherwise. Some would even go so far as to say that we have forgotten how to say “I’m sorry” for any deed we have done. I am beginning to wonder if the words of that old ‘70’s movie anthem haven’t gotten hold of us. You know the one I mean: “Love means you never have to say you’re sorry.”
I do believe in a merciful God. However, at the same time I think we have to acknowledge that we will always have a need for being reconciled in the first place. Like the lost sheep, God will come looking for us, but the next part is all ours. Matthew 23: 43-44(NRSV) depicts the scene of Jesus with the good thief at the crucifixion.
“Then he said, ‘Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly, I tell you this day you shall be with me in Paradise.’” The thief has acknowledged his need for redemption and Jesus has shown mercy in granting heaven to him.
So, where does this leave us? Well, even St. Benedict in his rule admonishes his followers, “do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Likewise in Matthew 5:23-24(NRS version) we hear, “So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go, first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”
How many times does someone at work do something that irritates us just a little, but we swallow it? Then tomorrow something else happens with the same person and on it goes.
Then one day, you are at home and your son does something and you blow up with him. Are you able to realize the anger is coming from somewhere else and admit to him that it was a bit overdone? Even more importantly, are you able to go to your co-worker and fix the problem with that person? You will feel better for it.
I would suggest that this Lent we find at least one person that we need to seek out and ask forgiveness from and become reconciled with them. This may sound like a scary proposition at first glance. However, the benefits we will reap will pump us up one hundredfold or more. This is true especially if it is with someone whom we have needed to do this with for a long, long time.
Good luck and may your Lenten season be blessed.