24th Sunday A
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
17th September 2023
“The glass of life – half full or empty?”
In life we tend to divide between those who see the glass of life as half full or half empty. We tend to be pessimists or optimists. The pessimist tends to see the negative first, fearing the worst and approaches things cautiously. The optimist is drawn to the positive, the bright side and its possibilities. The optimist approaches things more openly and with a sense of risk.
Much has been written about why we are like this – is it nature, born like this or nurture – did family and society make us like this? There are good arguments on both sides. What can be said for sure is that enormous amounts of money are invested in getting us to see the bright side – to be optimistic and upbeat.
In spiritual terms one is speaking of hope and despair. We have the common phrase “Hope springs eternal” yet despair and hopelessness is everywhere. But why?
Many find it really hard to see and experience the bright side because of hurt and loss. Whatever the source of hurt and loss they easily breed resentment and anger – which are foul things (Eccles. 27:33) – they pollute the mind and harden the heart, making it difficult to think straight and feel good about life.
With resentment and anger in control of our inner life there’s a great desire to lash out verbally and in extreme cases physically to seek revenge. We know from bitter experience such a way of responding is guaranteed to beget a cycle of hurt and violence that begets further recrimination.
That’s why the gospel of forgiveness, mercy and reconciliation is good news for humanity. Its mercy and forgiveness alone that have the power to break the vicious circle of hurt/loss, resentment/anger, vengeance/recrimination. This is a personal challenge in our individual lives, in family. It’s a challenge of a different kind in a society that values “one upmanship” and individual accomplishment, a society with a growing divide between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.
On the personal level it requires prayer and reflection if our reconciliation is to be authentic and profound. When, by God’s grace, we manage to make this inner journey, we truly are blest with an inner freedom where the darkness of anger can no longer reign.