Letting Go of Bitterness

by Ron Rolheiser, OMI

Too many of us need to see punishment before the wicked. For those who feel that way, knowing that good shall have its day isn’t reward enough. No. The bad also must be punished.


All that worry that somebody might be getting away with something and all that anxiety that God might not be an exacting judge suggest that revenge-seekers, like the older brother in the Prodigal Son parable, might be doing a lot of things right but are missing something important inside themselves. They may be dutiful and moral but bitter underneath and unable to enter the circle of celebration and the dance.

If we feel wounded and bitter, we are apt to worry that God’s justice might be too lenient, with inadequate punishment accorded to the bad. Lent is a good time to give up that way of thinking forever. Doing so means less worry about God’s way and more about our own incapacity to forgive, to let go of our hearts, to take delight in life, to give others the gaze of admiration, to celebrate, and to join in the dance. For us to be fit for heaven, bitterness must go.

We may have never really felt in our hearts the true and gentle words that the Father spoke to the older brother of the Prodigal Son: “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again” (Lk 15:31-32).


Daybreaks: Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter by Ron Rolheiser, OMI

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