Has an Orthodox Christian I spent,like most people,a year of hating my fellow brothers and sisters,not always intentionally,but mostly with out much notice to my internal remarks and external attitudes toward all I come in contact with on a daily basis.
Today as we are about to begin Lent we observe what is called Forgiveness Sunday.
At this time we remember Adam and Eve being cast out of Edan for eating of the fruit of the tree of good and evil thus disobeying God law by doing what they were told not to.
I happen to really like this custom of Forgiveness Sunday for once we are put in the position of understanding that the things we say and do effect those around us and to ask them for forgiveness is a very humbling,if not difficult procedure,to say the least.
We are even required,on this day, to ask our priest for forgiveness and he to ask us in return,thus showing our humanity to each other.
Due to my work schedule this is but the second time I have been able to attend this very personal service.
The one thing I can tell you is that I and the other members of my church,may not at that exact moment of asking for forgiveness,be really feeling what we are asking for from each other,but I think the very fact that this external action is being taken,gives us a sense of now it is easier to forgive from the heart after hearing it said from the mouth.
There is just something about speaking our confessions out loud that gives us some form of conformation that what we say and are hearing is what we will soon be feeling and working towards when dealing with others.
Just like standing before the Icon of Jesus opens our eyes toward who we are confessing to,seeing another person face and looking in their eyes also reminds us that we are here for each other and they are flesh,blood and feeling just as we are.
To forgive or ask for forgiveness gives us a chance to release our pent up hostilites and displeasures that we live with everyday,allowing us to relieve the internal baggage we are carrying around with us 24/7.
Like atlas shouldering the weight of the word we shoulder the weight of our hatreds.
If we do not ask for or are able to forgive,we move farther away from God's love and live in a constant state of underlying guilt and anger with each other.
I have heard that it is so important to God that we make peace with each other that the Bible says if you have anything against your brother put down your offering to God and go make peace with him with whom you have wronged.
In other words don't try to worship God until you have settled your disputes with each other.
No matter how many things you give up to God in worship or sacrifice you are not yet complete in the eyes of God.
All the people that you encounter every day are God's children and he doesn't play favorites.
When you hurt or insult another person,hold grudges or talk badly you wound God.
Now God may be a big Deity he can defend himself but his children are another story.
Of the ten commandments the first three deal with you and your relationship with God while the last seven deal with your relationship with each other.
When we look at the face of another person we should see the Icon of Jesus in their eyes.
Every one has the breath of God in their being and to insult and hurt your brother is to wrong the Almighty himself.