Today is the Feast of St. Barnabas. His given name was Joseph, but the Apostles gave him the name Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” In the first reading from Acts of the Apostles, we read two passages about Barnabas, who was a very important figure in the early Church and traveled with St. Paul.
In the Gospel reading today, we’re back in Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount. Today we hear Jesus talk about how destructive it is to hold a grudge agains another. “But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.” He then goes on to say how we must lose these grudges before we go offer our gift at the altar.
Many years ago my sister Nancy and I had a revelation about just how destructive grudges were in our lives. We made a pact that we would no longer hold grudges. Our Grudge Pact stuck with us, and Nancy and I talked of it often before her death. Jesus knew that when we hold grudges, we are not holding another person in bondage. We are keeping ourselves in chains. Bearing grudges stunts our spiritual growth. It slowly sucks the life out of us as we climb deeper and deeper into the dungeon of resentment. Jesus tells us that we must reconcile with our brother before we go to the altar. Otherwise our worship is in vain. Are you holding on to a grudge today? Why not make your own Grudge Pact today? Ask God to help you let it go, that you may be free.
Father, show us those grudges in our lives that we refuse to let go of. Break the chains that hold us bound, and free us from resentment, that we might live and love more fully. Amen.