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Perhaps guilt trips remind us to not lose perspective this time of year — Father Eugene Hemrick

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I usually look unfavorably at anyone who lays guilt trips on me that are a form of covert force that goes against the grain of my freedom.

Presently I am experiencing one such holiday guilt trip.

Eugene Hemrick
Father Eugene Hemrick writes for Catholic News Service (CNS file photo/Bob Roller)

Advertisements are urging me to fulfill every creature comfort imaginable. For example, brochures arrive in the mail and the internet lists exotic foods to send as gifts with discounts abounding to entice us.

How easy it is to get into the holiday shopping spirit. Would that I could wrap myself up in the festivities and fully enjoy them, but I cannot.

What stops me are reports of thousands of people dying daily from the pandemic, of immigrants drowning as they seek freedom, of the displacement of millions during the winter season, of wars continuing to destroy lives and property. The list of abject misery is endless.

How easy it is to forget these human beings. How easy it is to forget we are ever so fortunate, and too, to think we are not culpable for other’s misery and to dismiss this feeling. Are we responsible for something we did not cause?

Following the letter of the law, no, we are not to blame. Yes, we have a right to enjoy festivities. No, we are not guilty of breaking the law.

But if we have not gone beyond the law to its spirit then maybe we deserve a troublesome guilt trip.

If, for example, we feel the problems of developing nations are not ours — that we have enough of our own problems — then what does Christian charity mean?

If we do not educate our children to be aware of starvation, then what is real education about?

If we have not shared our financial blessings, then what values are motivating us?

Oh, how sticky questions raise guilt feelings.

If we take to heart our guilt trips, then I think the very freedom guilt trips threaten will be enhanced.

Is not a gift and a meal denied for the love and compassion of another at the very heart of freedom?