“If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” – 1 John 4:20
“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.” – Mother Teresa
These quotes embody the part of being a good Catholic that I struggle most with. Sure, I love my neighbor! I give to charity both locally and globally. And I’m nice to the people I work with and the people in my neighborhood.
Unless, of course, I have a reason to hold a grudge against them. If grudge-holding were an Olympic sport, I’d have every gold medal and set every world record! I’d be on the covers of Sports Illustrated and Time Magazine for my incredible grudge-holding skill. I am the Michael Phelps of grudge-holding.
And that’s not healthy.
From a secular perspective, holding a grudge and staying angry increases your blood pressure and raises your stress level. Over time, this can cause heart disease. It can also make you extremely unpleasant to deal with, even for the people you don’t have a grudge against. Perhaps especially for them, since they’re the ones who have to listen to you complain all the time. (Sorry, DH.)
And from a Catholic perspective… well, it should be obvious, shouldn’t it? God has called us to love our neighbor and reminds us that we even need to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44-47). Yes, it’s hard. What do you expect from a man who said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Take up your cross daily. Not just on Sundays. Not just when you feel like it. Daily.
And so, one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to try to let go of some grudges. They’ve been dragging me down long enough, and with my cholesterol I don’t need any more risk factors for a heart attack! Every day, I’m going to try to pray for someone I have a grudge against. Even if it’s just a rushed Hail Mary before bed, it’s a start.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao-Tzu