Check Your Temper

Matthew 5: 20-26
Ez 18:21-28 / Ps 130

Whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.
(Matthew 5:22)

Jesus warns us to be aware:
The first murder was done in anger.
Lest by hatred our hearts are defiled,
Forgive the hurt, and be reconciled.

Today’s Gospel is a continuation of the Beatitudes of Jesus, Who speaks to us to be meek and gentle of heart, to be compassionate and forgiving, as the Father has been with us inspite of all our transgressions. He wants us to be peacemakers, especially in times when we feel that we are persecuted. This is how we can carry our crosses and become God’s children.

Jesus does not want us to bear a grudge or hatred against our neighbor. “Vengeance is mine”, says the Lord. To a certain extent, God allows anger to well in our hearts, but only to build up our character when we are able to curb it. Proverbs 19:11 says, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” We grow in patience and wisdom when we are hold our peace and learn to forgive.

Reflection

In one of the group sessions held by an archdiocesan organization, the dangerous sin of anger was demonstrated when the organizers “faked a scene” to actually provoke this emotion. One of the coordinators pretended to be drunk, and started to become “unruly” during a group discussion. The other coordinators pretended to patiently calm him down, and took him out of the room. But the “drunk brother” kept coming back. This behaviour aroused the anger of a few participants, and one elderly man even attempted to teach the “drunk brother” a lesson, and had to be pacified by the leaders. Then, to the surprise of all the participants, the “drunkard” turned out to be the speaker of the session, who gave a talk on ‘Anger and Forgiveness.’

That incident demonstrated that anger in itself is not wrong because it is our human nature to get angry when a wrong is not rectified, or an abuse is perpetuated. Anger only becomes a sin when its consequence is to inflict harm or harbor hatred against another in retaliation or revenge. Hurling insulting words like “fool” or “moron” against our neighbor is unacceptable because it demeans us more than the object of our hatred. Jesus says it is like murder because insulting words are intended to “kill” the character of the other person. We in fact die a little every time we are insulted.

St. Paul also advises us: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. . . If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.” (Rom. 12:18,20-21)

During this period of Lent, let us reflect on the Prayer of St. Eusebius (3rd century): “May I be no man’s enemy, and may I be the friend of that which is eternal and abides. May I never quarrel with those nearest me: and if I do, may I be reconciled quickly. May I love, seek, and attain only that which is good. May I wish for all men’s happiness and envy none. May I never rejoice in the ill-fortune of one who has wronged me. When I have done or said what is wrong, may I never wait for the rebuke of others, but always rebuke myself until I make amends. May I win no victory that harms either me or my opponent. May I reconcile friends who are angry with one another. . . May I always keep tame that which rages within me. May I accustom myself to be gentle, and never be angry with people because of circumstances. May I never discuss who is wicked and what wicked things he has done, but know good men and follow in their footsteps.” AMEN.

2 Responses to “Check Your Temper”

  1. jojo-bcbp  on March 2nd, 2007

    I always equate lent with fasting and doing away with pork. But through the BCBP I learn that lent is about giving up more than pork. It’s about giving up our negative attitudes and whatever keeps us from God. It’s about reconciliation. By reconciling with our brothers, we take the first step to reconciling with God and the Church.