Sep 12 – Holy Name of Mary
This feast is a counterpart to the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (January 3); both have the possibility of uniting people easily divided on other matters. The feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary began in Spain in 1513 and in 1671 was extended to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples. In 1683, John Sobieski, king of Poland, brought an army to the outskirts of Vienna to stop the advance of Muslim armies loyal to Mohammed IV in Constantinople. After Sobieski entrusted himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he and his soldiers thoroughly defeated the Muslims. Pope Innocent XI extended this feast to the entire Church.
Bearing with one another and forgiving one another
It’s just ironical or divine intervention that I am to write the reflection for today’s reading. I can’t forgive. Not always and not easily. It’s hard to forgive and sometime I don’t want to. What do you do when something in your life is too huge to forgive? This inability to forgive has caused me much grief. This led me to question and beat myself up – was I being a good Christian?
The gospel today is really hard to follow. As humans, we suffer rejection, betrayal, loss, abandonment, infidelity. The list is endless. We get wounded by the people we love most and those closest to us. Over the last few years, I went through a series of breakdowns in relationships and loss. One after another. Each time I steeled myself up and bulldozed myself to move ahead, something else happened. All that came to a resounding crash earlier this year. Everything came to a head. I felt utterly alone. My mental and emotional health were in shambles.
I dealt with these difficult situations by simply cutting them out. People come and go in our lives. Situations change. That’s life. That’s a fact. Over time, I stopped thinking about these things and they started to blur in my mind. Truth be told, I felt a sense of freedom, not having these people in my life. I no longer felt anger nor resentment. But one thing never went away – the hurt and pain was like an irritating pincer lodged in the flesh of my heart. A sermon I heard once stuck in my mind – no matter how you feel, offer up your prayer to those people you find hardest to love. I persisted in my ‘lousy prayer’ to the Lord for all of these people, even when I felt nothing.
If one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. Yup, it’s not easy to follow. While I felt guilty for my unforgiveness, I was in no capacity to be Christ-like, to forgive. In fact, in my emotional deficit, I could not find it within myself to give, to love, to care, to be compassionate. Truth be told, holding on to that anger and hate felt good. It ‘vindicated’ my pain of being betrayed and wronged.
The biggest revelation for me is that the Lord doesn’t expect us to do this ourselves. It’s by His grace and timing that allows us to heal and forgive. He knows when the time is right and will create the time and place for restoration, mending and healing of brokenness. By my own strength, I could not possibly forgive these people for the hurt they caused me. But I declare today that God is real and working in our lives. Our God of love and compassion knows our circumstance, the depth of our wounds and how much we can take. Over the past few months, God has created 3 occasions for reconciliation with the people who hurt me tremendously. Each of these scenarios can only be explained as the work of God, for no amount of planning by anyone could have fabricated these occurrences. One by one, I feel that my heart has forgiven these people.
I learnt that forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to condone or accept what was done to you. It’s not ignoring your hurt or pretending that nothing happened. It’s not burying the pain that you forget about it. The journey to healing and forgiveness required me to face pain and suffering. I had to acknowledge these feelings within me and allow myself to feel these emotions. Forgiveness is choosing to put an end to my suffering and pain by allowing God’s light to shine on the situations. Forgiveness seems unfair because it requires me, the hurt party to show an act of compassion, to make the first move. But withholding forgiveness does not punish the other person. It actually exhausts me. Forgiveness has actually very little to do with the person that hurt me, and a lot to do with me. Forgiveness is God’s medicine. It healed me. It freed me from the prison of hurt and pain.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we pray to forgive through you. That our pain and suffering can be healed, so that we are free to give life to others. We pray for the people who have wronged us, and ask forgiveness if we have hurt others.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for the ultimate act of forgiveness is your dying on the cross. Thank you for laying down your life us. May we choose always to forgive, just as you have forgiven us.