• Lent 3 B

    Posted on March 4, 2018 by in Reflections on Sunday Gospels

    Just ANGER or JUST,  anger.

            Today’s Gospel is one that we are familiar with and which we

    usually refer to when thinking of anger.  I’m afraid when we speak of

    Jesus’ just anger we are sometimes trying to justify our own anger.  But

    anger is a reality of our life and experience and I’d like to consider it

    with you.

            Most people are familiar with the story of the cleansing of the

    temple.  It is only in John that we learn that Jesus fashioned a kind of

    whip of cords.  Interestingly enough it doesn’t say Jesus beat anyone or

    anything.  This is one of the few instances in the story of Jesus that we

    learn that he was angry.

            The Greek language has two different words for anger.  The first

    word has to do with anger that is like a small bundle of straw (paja) which

    is lighted.  The straw flares up, (brillar), is bright and hot, but only

    for an instant and then is gone.  The other word for anger is that which is

    more lasting.  (smoldering)  It is more like the heating of a piece of iron

    (hierro calentado)  It takes time to penetrate the metal but lasts a much

    longer time.  A third type of anger is what I’d call unrecognized anger.

    Anger is often a place where family systems clash.

            The first kind of anger, the flare up kind, is familiar to us.  A

    mother has just washed the floor and in comes her son or daughter and

    tracks in mud.  “I just washed that floor, will you please wipe your feet?”

    Or the father returning from work and the two children are arguing.  “Will

    you please stop it?”  All of you could add many more examples of this type

    of anger.  It comes and goes and if it isn’t an almost constant part of

    life, it isn’t all that serious.  If however, there is any kind of physical

    abuse or violence, it is serious.

           The second type of anger is like the heated metal (hierro

    calentado).  We know we are getting hot.  This is the anger that is

    refueled to keep it hot.  The heat is applied for a considerable time.

    When the iron gets hot it stays hot for a long time.  This is the kind of

    anger we brood over in our hearts.  We talk with a person of like mind who

    knows how to feed the anger.  It is like the billows of the blacksmith.

            The third type of anger is what I call unknown or unrecognized

    anger.  Sometimes we feel frustrated (frustrado), tense (tenso), estirado,

    judgmental (castigando), irritated (irritado), disappointed (deceptionado,

    desilusionado) let down, edgy, less loving.  Sometimes I’m not even in

    touch with my negative feelings but only feel less joy, creativity,

    spontaneity and love.  There is a good description of this kind of

    unrecognized or unacknowledged anger in the book Healing Life’s Hurts, page

    102,3:  “I become more impatient and critical.  Impatience makes me a clock

    watcher shifting feet and tightening my jaw when people come late.  I find

    myself rushing what I am doing (eating fast) to get on to the next event

    (reading a newspaper) and rushing that too.  I even help people finish

    their sentences so I can get on to what I want to say or alter their

    insights with a ‘Yes…but…’  When I take time to talk with someone, I

    only half listen, hearing what is said but missing how the person really

    feels.  I begin to teach subjects, not students, and look forward to

    classes ending, not beginning.  I impatiently work harder and alone, seldom

    delegating a task because I feel that others don’t want to help or because

    I don’t think that they could do a good job.  I become a ‘constructive’

    critic (because I am critic and not the target) of everyone??those who

    don’t know I need help, those who are late, and those spreading injustice

    by their apathy.  (Communicate the message that you are damned if you do

    and damned if you don’t.)  When I pray, I treat God as I do others??half

    listening, talking about my work, complaining about injustices that need

    changing and venting impatience at God’s timetable.  Much of the day my

    anger expresses itself in continual wishes that something would change and

    go faster or better.”  These can be some of the symptoms of anger.

    Uneasiness, disease.  If anger is swallowed long enough, the body rebels.

    I also believe that repressed or denied anger or anger that is clung to

    causes cancer.  Physical illness can also be a symptom that I am angry.  One

    of the results of denied anger is that it builds and builds and finally

    boils over.  It can be a small thing that brings about the explosion.  Or

    the explosion comes out not only unexpectedly but displaced.  I direct my

    anger at the wrong person.

            Anger can be denied or unrecognized or unacknowledged for a variety

    of reasons.  But basically we don’t call anger anger because we believe or

    have been taught that anger is bad.  We don’t want to be bad.  We learn to

    hide our anger from our friends and ourselves.  Sometimes though we are the

    only ones who don’t know that we are angry.  But feeling anger is healthy.

    Nursing unresolved anger which results in hostility is usually unhealthy

    and sinful.  St. Augustine had a saying:  “Hope has two lovely daughters,

    anger and courage.  Anger so that what should not be is not and courage so

    that what should be is.

    Suppose for a moment that you are driving down a road and someone

    swerves into your path.  You get angry but your anger also activates your

    body to react and overcome the accident that you fear.  It also sometimes

    activates our tongue to “curse a blue streak”.  When someone hurts me I

    also get angry.  This is a sign of health.  It means that I am concerned

    about myself and about the other.  “We should love ourselves and others

    enough to hate violence, selfishness, prejudice, sexual chauvinism

    (machismo), and other injustices.  Anger energizes us to change what

    should be changed so that we can live in a better, more loving


            How can we work at our sinful anger?  Some people find it helpful

    to divert their anger.  I’m reminded of our novice master who

    got so angry with us for breaking silence continually during work period.

    He walked briskly outside saying his office for about three quarters of an

    hour before he confronted us with our misdeed.  This is the person who gets

    angry and goes for a walk, or a bike ride, or chops wood or cleans up a

    storm or takes a hot bath or shower, or goes jogging, or, or…  In doing

    this we must be aware that we are simply diffusing the anger.  These things

    drain away the present tension but fail to heal past hurts that fester and

    cause continuous anger.

            A second way to work at our anger is to try to pin down our

    feelings by talking to someone about how we feel.  We must of course share

    with someone not to nurse the anger along or be bolstered in our right to

    be angry.  A warm friend’s acceptance of our anger can be the beginning of

    healing.  This person may give me a different perspective on the whole


            Sometimes we can directly tell whoever hurt us exactly how we felt

    and why we are angry.  When we are angry is usually not the time to do

    this.  How often in anger the worst in me meets the worst in you and things

    get worse.

            Prayer is also a means to work on anger.  I can begin by telling

    Christ how I feel.  Sometimes this means getting beyond what first comes to

    my mind to the deeper hurt.  Sometimes we have to explore with Christ to

    ‘recognize’ our anger.  If we have a distorted idea of God we will not

    share with him at the level needed for healing.  I must share with God who

    loves me unconditionally.  My prayer might sound like this:  “Lord, show me

    what I felt like saying and doing.  Let me share all its ugliness and hurt

    with you.  Lord I feel drained and scared.”  We have to know something of

    the scriptures to do this well.  We might find an incident in the life of

    Jesus something like the hurt I have suffered.  Then we should listen to

    how Jesus felt.  Finally we should ask Jesus for the insight for what to do

    and the strength to do this.  “Usually when I can admit I am angry, the

    Lord shows me the destruction I detest, whom I am blaming, why the person

    is that way, the hidden side I can’t see and what he wants to do and say

    through me to bring healing.”

            “Anyone can love the smiling side of a person, but anger allows my

    love to deepen into forgiving even the wounding side of another.  I can

    accept the anger and weakness in another’s wounding side only to the degree

    I can recognize and accept my own angry feelings and weakness as does

    Christ.  Anger, therefore, stretches me to love more as Christ until I can

    forgive even the weakness in myself and in another.”  We must hear the

    words of Paul to the Ephesians, “Be angry but sin not.” Eph. 4:26

              It would take a whole other reflection to explore Augustine’s “Hope has two lovely daughters, anger so that what should not be is not….” There is so much today that “should not be”.  What would you state fits into this class?

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