Over the last three reflections, we have been examining our tendency to accumulate things, including the amassing of material possessions, academic knowledge, things that inflate our ego, and so on. While we struggle with our decision to choose “things that belong to heaven” over “earthly things”, we need to pay special attention to the kind of accumulation that is more insidious, which is our emotional baggage.  Since our emotional baggage has been accumulating unconsciously over the years and is hidden from our eyes, its impact is quite difficult to detect. As a result, we are often unaware of our tendency of holding on to our emotions or accumulating emotional baggage.

Little do we know, the damage caused by our emotional baggage far outweighs the damage resulting from all other kinds of accumulation.

Some examples of emotional baggage include: anger, emotional trauma, childhood trauma, experiences of being misjudged, harm inflicted by others or on others, failures, experiences of prejudice or being prejudiced to others, unresolved issues, negative memories, and so on.

These negative emotional baggage can shape our impression of others and God, and most importantly, damage our own self-image. Such misjudgment can also sway or distort the messages from God and others, leading to a distorted relationship with God, others and oneself. All these can also have a direct impact on our understanding and acceptance of our own identity and role, and indirectly endanger our self-image and self-worth. Since our identity and role also shape the way we communicate and the way we act, this chain reaction, therefore, has a lasting impact on our personality as well as character development. Not only will this adversely affect how we relate to others and ourselves, but will also influence the basis and pattern of how we make decisions. Therefore, its impact is so vast and deep that we cannot afford to ignore it!

Our negative memories and negative emotions are intricately connected, such that one reinforces the other, causing the negative memories to be firmly imprinted on our consciousness and extremely challenging to expunge. As a result, these emotional knots become tangled with the “many things” that are buried deep in our hearts. Not only our everyday functioning will be affected, but also our physical, emotional and spiritual wellness! Therefore, we must confront this problem head on.  

“Forgiveness” is one of the keys to resolve our negative emotions.

Indeed, forgiveness is front and centre in the prayer that Jesus taught us (ref. Matthew 6:9-15). Jesus’ first prayer to His Father on the cross focuses on forgiving His enemies.

“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

(Luke 23:34)

Jesus reveals God’s image and essence through His words and deeds, as well, He affirms the centrality of “forgiveness” among all other virtues.

The devil will always try to lure us into holding on to our emotional baggage, making us believe that we cannot let it go. He makes us keep replaying past episodes of hurt and failure in our minds, corners us into the delusion of shame and guilt, and entraps us in our hardened heart.

Contrarily, Jesus invites us to reconcile with our Heavenly Father, each other, and ourselves through prayer and the sacrament of reconciliation, so that our hearts and minds can become free to embrace the peace that Christ has given us and the blessings of God our Father.


Have you noticed that you have been burdened by your emotional baggage?  How does it affect your mood and behaviour?

Do you believe that your inability to forgive others and yourself is connected to your unwillingness to lay down your baggage?

Are you willing to cry out to God for help, lay down your baggage, and reconcile with those involved?


Lord Jesus Christ, thank you, through today’s reflection, for helping me understand that the emotional baggage that I’ve been shouldering is also, unconsciously, affecting me, and even dragging me down, leading me to hurt others and myself. I now know that I have hurt You the most.  You have already forgiven us, and even died for us, while we were still sinners.  Let me never forget and take Your kindness for granted. Help me follow Your example, not only to forgive those who have hurt me, but also reconcile with them and rebuild our relationship.  Grant me strength to fulfil this mission. For this I pray, in Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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Sincerely invite you to share the reflections that inspires you by this day's retreat.