Grace to you!
Recently, I met somebody whose perspective on the psychology of hatred was eye-opening. Having been a victim of hate and betrayal, he sought to investigate the nature of hate.
For him, hate is unbridled and misguided distaste for somebody. It’s the sort of thing that makes it impossible to tolerate someone; and the memory of that person stirs a grave discomfort. He said he had an opportunity to confront one of his haters and asked: “How do you feel when you see me, think about me or hear stories about me?”
The answer was honest: Unease, discomfort, abrasive and sad, in addition to upset stomach. The harm of hate isn’t just against somebody else, but against the hater. It takes a lot of energy to hate.
Love is a different story. Love soothes the nerves and is healthy to the soul. To love doesn’t need additional effort. It flows like a stream of delight. But to hate squeezes the tissues and marrows the psyche. It’s the worst type of stress.
If hate were due to a cover-up, whenever the occasion arises that resembles the material facts of the cover-up, conscience would squeak loud in the eardrums of the mind. The discomfort is terrible. The voice of conscience is very powerful. Guilt from hate is unbearable, no matter how one tries to silence it.
Macbeth, in the epic novel of Shakespeare, couldn’t handle the guilt of the bloody soul and a bloodied hand. Herod the Tetrarch in the Gospel story of Luke 9:7-9 couldn’t silence it either. One common denominator between both, and many who ply the route of hateful injustice, is the unsettling reality that truth could survive the brutality of hate or violent ambition against the innocent.
A word for somebody dealing with unresolved guilt may be appropriate here. Lay it down before whom healing is possible. Confess it to the person whose hands are of solace, whose heart is of love and whose judgment is of mercy and peace – Jesus the Lord.
I will tell you as a priest, there are many times people have had their guilt removed and the loads in their heart lifted, after they knelt at the confessional, asking God for mercy. God, who is generous, forgives and heals.
The question, therefore, is how could one deal with guilt? Meet a psychologist? Good idea, if the guilt is psychological. Much guilt, however, is spiritual and moral. Guilt is like a smoke indicating combustion inside the human heart due to spiritual or moral misconduct.
See it as an indirect gift so as to find spiritual wholeness. Worrying about it and doing nothing to restore the peace wouldn’t help. The good news is always here. God has provided in His Body, the Church, a powerful means of cleansing and restoration (see John 20:22-23).
As you think about why you feel guilt, start with some makeover. Do-over what can be done. Correct what should be remedied. Mend ways. Ultimately, if necessary as in many cases it is, confess to the victim; definitely confess to God, who heals.
By so doing, you won’t need to carry the guilt anymore. As many testimonies abound from those who go to confession, spiritual healing and grace of reconciliation received as they walk out hearing the word “Go is peace,” are indescribable.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.