"You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family." Leviticus 25:10
As we enjoy another joyous holiday season, our thoughts become more altruistic in nature and often our actions are not far behind. During Thanksgiving, many assess their lives and take stock of all they have for which to be thankful. As Christmas comes into view, our thoughts turn to our Lord and Savior, Jesus and all he stands for. We think of peace, harmony, unselfishness, service, gratitude and giving. And as New Year's Day approaches, we think of celebration, resolution and hope for a blessed new year where, ostensibly, things will be even better than they were over the past year.
Beloved, it has occurred to me that we are missing a holiday. Would not this season be perfect for a Forgiveness Day? While most of us our feeling and exemplifying our best selves, forgiveness of others would be a perfect addition. Think about it. When Jesus was teaching the apostles to pray, included were the words, "And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," Matthew 6:12. In fact, a closer look reveals that forgiving others has benefits for those who forgive. Jesus said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven," Luke 6:37 (NIV).
Well it turns out that there is a precedent of sorts associated with a forgiveness holiday. In the Jewish tradition, it was called the Year of Jubilee. Concisely put, it took place the year after 7 periods of 7 years each. Though one of the major features was to allow the land to rest from farming for a year, it also involved forgiving debts, the releasing of slaves and the return of (traditional tribal) properties to those who may have sold them. Of course not all of the tenants apply to 21st century American culture but the concept can easily be borrowed to establish a day of forgiveness for the disputes, offences and wrongs for which we sometimes grudgingly hold others captive.
Again, this holiday season brings out the best in us. Let us not leave unconsidered and unaddressed what could be one of our worst traits. And while it is doubtful that a national holiday will be established around this concept anytime soon, none of us are prevented from creating and celebrating Forgiveness Day in our own hearts and minds. In fact, we could celebrate it everyday...