“Be a person of integrity,” we tell our kids and teenagers. It’s a goal that may seem fuzzy; what does “integrity” mean, anyhow?
Years ago, when I discovered that the word “integrity” means “wholeness,” a light bulb went off for me. Having integrity means that we are not internally divided, not compartmentalized. It means that what we profess is the same as what we do.
This is not an easy goal, honestly, because we all compartmentalize our lives in one way or another. The Gospel shows one example of this, indicating that we often worship God while maintaining resentful relationships with others. We love God while hating—or at least intensely disliking—each other. The Gospel invites us to do otherwise, to reject this fragmentation and become whole.
This is far from easy. What about the person who has been rude to me, cruel to me? The person who has hurt the people I love? They deserve my anger, don’t they?
Forgiveness is a process, and sometimes, we need to move in baby steps. One of the first of those steps is simply to pray for the other person, to pray for their health and their happiness. If they are still hurting us or others, we can pray for them to have a change of heart.
Being human, even this is sometimes hard. I can see where my personal conflicts lie when I try to pray for someone and find a tug of resistance deep inside. I find that I don’t want to pray for this person; I would rather persist in my anger and my resentment.
And that’s why this Gospel is so hard, but so important. If I want to live a life of integrity, one in which alignment of my will and God’s will drives my life, I should put aside my own petty tendency to savor resentment. Instead, I should embrace the bigness of God, who wants all of His children to find fullness of life. God wants those who hurt me to repent and change. God also wants me to see that I have hurt others, too, in ways I can’t perceive without some quiet soul-searching. And God wants me to recognize that I can do better, much better, than a fragmented life.
God wants our wholeness, for all our sakes. And it starts with prayer.
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Think of someone for whom you feel resentment or anger. Pray for that person.
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is a mother, high school English teacher, and BBC period drama junkie. She is the author of Taste and See: Experiencing the Goodness of God with Our Five Senses and Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. Ginny lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two boys, and about thirty thousand Legos. You can find out more about her here.