“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. 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 5:21-24)
In the 4th Century, Evagrios of Pontus, a Christian monk, was a prolific writer concerning the spiritual life. Unfortunately, at times his theology drifted away from what the Church officially taught and approved through the Ecumenical Councils. Nevertheless, his writings on the spiritual life were very influential and his spiritual advice continued to be passed down through Christian history. In the short few stanzas below, Evagrios offers us advice about what we should do before going to Communion: forgive and be reconciled with your fellow parishioners.
God is in want of nothing
and shows no particular favoritism,
but he certainly did not want to receive that man
who came to him with a sacrificial gift
until he had first been reconciled with his neighbor
who had a grievance against him.
So think, and discern carefully
how you ought to offer spiritual incense to God
on the altar of your spirit,
so that it will indeed be an acceptable gift.”
(The Book of Mystical Chapters,Translated by Anthony McGuckin, pp 36-37)
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)
The birth of Christ is announced by angels with a message of peace among people with whom God is pleased. Where does that message of peace begin? In your heart, as you think about your neighbor, fellow parishioner, relative or co-worker. Let the peace of Christmas take root in your heart this year and establish that peace and reconciliation which the Nativity of Christ means for us who believe.