I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.—John 13:15.
There are often bound to us, in the closest intimacy of social or family ties, natures hard and ungenial, with whom sympathy is impossible, and whose daily presence necessitates a constant conflict with an adverse influence. There are, too, enemies,—open or secret,—whose enmity we may feel yet cannot define. Our Lord, going before us in this hard way, showed us how we should walk. It will be appropriate to the solemn self-examination of the period of Lent to ask ourselves, Is there any false friend or covert enemy whom we must learn to tolerate, to forbear with, to pity and forgive? Can we in silent offices of love wash their feet as our Master washed the feet of Judas? And, if we have no real enemies, are there any bound to us in the relations of life whose habits and ways are annoying and distasteful to us? Can we bear with them in love? Can we avoid harsh judgments, and harsh speech, and the making known to others our annoyance? The examination will probably teach us to feel the infinite distance between us and our divine Ideal, and change censorious-ness of others into prayer for ourselves.
Harriet Beecher Stowe.