I ended my lunch yesterday over the mournful remains of a late season plum and Whole Foods frozen spinach egg bites and approximately four stale oreos. Maybe the food wasn’t mournful, but my attitude certainly was (although I’m sure the food didn’t help). All I wanted, I told Lydia, was a win. I just needed a good solid win instead of what felt like a daisy chain of flops covering my early fall and late summer. It’s been a weird fall. Health scares and new routines and unexpected international travel and zooms with people younger than you who have seemingly direct connections to every cool Cardinal and Bishop (that one might just apply to me) have weighed us down. It’s tiring and I’m tired. But yesterday, a retired hospital chaplain came to see me in my office. She had several gifts she wanted to give me for Rome but mostly she wanted to pray with me, to anoint me with holy oil from Bethlehem, and to talk about how much it meant to her that young women were recognized for their boldness and bravery – not castigated for it. My office still smells sweetly of the oil.
This Sunday we are going to meditate on themes of forgiveness. The first reading opens with the strong statement that the sinner hugs hateful wrath and anger tight. We will hear in the Gospel that we must forgive seventy seven times, like the merciful King. I’ll be honest with you, forgiveness is not something that comes easily to me. Sometimes it seems like I was born to hold a grudge, against others and against myself. But holding those grudges doesn’t keep me warm, it doesn’t bring me joy, and it mostly leads to me sadly eating sad food. So as we work on our 77 forgivings, be bold and brave and make some of those for yourself. It’s never quite as dire as it seems.