This coming July 4, it will be the 5th anniversary of the passing of a very dear friend and colleague. His passing from a car accident was a big shock for me, and I still think about it often. Who wakes up in the morning and thinks this is the day someone close to them will die? I am sure it happens to some of us, because we may have someone suffering from ill health. But really, we do not think about the healthy ones being the ones that will go, not the ones "before their time." But what is our time? Is there anything that tells us we are guaranteed a certain amount of time? We do not know either the day or the hour.
My dear friend taught me many things over the 20+ years I knew him. He was faithful and courageous, always willing to listen and encourage, but also tough and self-assured enough to tell me when I was wrong... and I was wrong a lot. His admonishments and teachings helped turn me around to become a better man, father, husband, and son. Among the many things he said to me, I held on to this one that I will always cherish, "Remember that at the end of the day, it is not necessarily about you, but about what you can do for others; love like this is your last day on earth," and he did love that way.
When I think of Our Lord Jesus, I think of the many things we are to emulate. Our Lord's teachings tell us to embrace love and compassion and reject the things that affect our love and charity, and many things affect our love and charity. When we go out to lash out and spew hate into the world, we do great violence upon our charity. We are, in fact, rejecting Christ's teachings.
In my youth, I used to be quite an angry person. My friend used to look at me and tell me, "I've done the anger thing. It is not worth your time. Feel it, acknowledge it, let it go, and move on." For many years I did not fully understand the hold anger can keep on our hearts and minds. I thought repressing it was the way to go, but that is not what my friend told me. It is not what Jesus tells us, either. Anger is a feeling, and it is ok to feel it.
We are to acknowledge our feeling, understand that we are human beings with human faults and frailties, and then move on. We do not stay and live in that feeling. We do not want to entertain negative thoughts and actions that compromise our love and charity, for our anger can and does open the door to sin. With self-awareness and humility, we must go and offer our suffering from these negative emotions and bring them before God for healing. We pray for release from that which chains us, that we may move forward, and that our love and charity be increased. Like my friend used to say, "It is not necessarily about you... Let it go..."
I find that going to the Chapel and sitting before Christ Eucharistic helps all my negativism to abate, allowing my anger to melt bit by bit in His presence. I visualize Christ at the Cross and see that injustice... He could have been angered, but instead, He accepted the burden and brought forward His charity:
To let go of anger requires us to recognize and acknowledge it. From there, and asking for God's help, we can consciously feel it, accept that it is there, and let it go. We earnestly pray that we can move on. We do not want to do great violence to our love and charity but instead embrace these virtues by the way we respond to our feelings in Christ. Let us choose to be more like Jesus...
I remember being angry and sad when I found out about my friend's passing. All I could think of was that it was such a waste to lose someone like him, but then I remembered the many things he taught the many and that it was neither about him nor me but about us. My anger turned to gratitude for the time we shared together.
I am grateful for the many of you who know and exercise the true charity of Christ. If I may ask you all for a favor, please pray for an increase in love, understanding, and charity. Please pray for the eternal rest of the souls of the many who have passed, that their gifts of charity and love toward us may continue multiplying through the graces of our Lord, forever and ever. Let us be the love of God present here in the now, for tomorrow is not assured.
Let us pray: Lord, help us to love more like You. Increase our love, understanding, and charity. Help us repel the spirit of anger so that we may live our lives closer to Your example. Amen.