Jesus talks about anger in today’s Gospel account. All of us have anger in us and many of us were taught from our earliest years that anger was a sin; in fact, one of the seven deadly sins! So we tend to feel guilty if we get angry.
In reality anger is normal and can even be healthy. If we love and value ourselves, we will naturally get angry if we are treated in a way that is contrary to our sanctity and dignity as human beings. In itself anger is neither good nor bad morally. We may have been told that anger is a bad emotion to have. Granted, it is a dangerous one but that does not make it a bad one.
Psychologists tell us that repressed anger is dangerous and can lead to self-hatred, depression, and even produce within a person sickness. Anger needs to be released, but this must be done in a healthy way. When given a healthy means of expression, relief, along with peace of mind and heart follows.
When Jesus said, “Do not get angry with your brother,” he is not condemning anger in itself. After all, the Gospel records for us that Jesus got extremely angry with the money-changers in the Temple. There are times when anger is justified. An unjust situation should make us angry. The corruption in our government and the cover-ups in our Church should make us angry.
When anger turns into hostility is when it becomes dangerous, and hostility is the true deadly sin! Hostility causes us to act out of our anger, and leads to deep resentments, insults, prejudice, broken relationships, and so on.
If we find ourselves getting angry often, we should look at the cause of our anger. We may be hypersensitive, or over- impatient, or full of hurt that we have not adequately dealt with. In other words, we need to look at ourselves.
But the cause may lie with others. Some people are full of anger, which can make them very difficult to live with. Instead of owning their anger, they direct it on to others.
Finally the cause may lie in some unjust situation. If so, then we should do our best to correct the situation. Anger can be a good thing as it spurs us to action to right a wrong.
We can’t avoid getting angry, but we can avoid acting out of anger. As Christians we are called to be ministers of reconciliation. A small example of this is: A man had an argument with his wife before going to work that morning. Halfway through the morning it was still bothering him, so he called his wife and apologized for his part in the argument. Later he said to a co-worker, “I did not want her to carry that all day.” He didn’t do himself any harm either. Think about it!
– Fr. Dennis, February 16, 2020