St. Jerome was known for his hot temper and for some reason—we don’t know why—had not been on speaking terms with his own aunt for a long time. Here he writes her a letter begging for a reconciliation, remembering that he will be judged if he cannot forgive his old grudges.
The Apostle and evangelist John rightly says that “any one who hates his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15). For since hate often leads to murder, the one who hates, even if he hasn’t killed his victim yet, has murder in his heart.
Why (you ask) do I begin this way? Just so that you and I may both set aside our grudges of the past and cleanse our hearts to be a home for God. “Be angry, but sin not,” says David; or, as the Apostle expresses it more completely, “do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26). Then what will we do on the day of judgment, when we’ve let the sun go down on our anger, not one day, but many years?
The Lord says in the Gospel, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).
Woe to me, wretch that I am! I was just about to say, woe to you as well. For a long time now we either haven’t offered a gift at the altar, or have offered it while nursing a grudge for no reason. How have we been able to say “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” in our daily prayers, while our feelings haven’t matched our words, and what we ask for is inconsistent with what we do?
So now I renew the prayer I made when I wrote to you a year ago: that the Lord’s peace may be ours as well, and that my desires and your feelings may find favor in his sight. Soon we’ll stand before his judgment seat, either to receive the reward of peace restored, or to pay the price for harmony broken.
–St. Jerome, Letter 3
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Am I holding on to any old grudges that I ought to have let go long since?
Does anyone have a good reason for a grudge against me—something I should have apologized for a long time ago?
Father, the source of all unity, make me one in heart and mind with all your faithful people, so that your whole Church may live in harmony.
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