Continuing our discussion on the seven deadly sins, we turn to anger.  The gospel for tomorrow (Friday, February 26, 2010) speaks of angry.  Jesus refers to the commandment “You shall not kill” and takes it further.  Not only should we not kill, we shouldn’t even be angry with people.

That’s tough!  Isn’t it natural to get angry sometimes.  Even Jesus got angry (Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-18John 2:13-18).  If people wrong us, shouldn’t we be upset?  We agree that it is wrong to kill because we are angry.  In fact, no physical violence is justified by anger.  We should never act out our anger physically but it’s a natural reaction isn’t it?

Yes, it can be a natural reaction.  We can’t always control the thoughts and emotions that came into our head.  We can control what we do with the thoughts and emotions.

Paragraph 2302 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says

Anger is a desire for revenge. “To desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit,” but it is praiseworthy to impose restitution “to correct vices and maintain justice.” If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin. The Lord says, “Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.”

Anger becomes a problem when it dictates our actions.  When we lose control of our anger, we might act out not just to the person we are angry with but to anyone.  When we hold onto anger in our hearts, we shut out love.  We can shut out not just from the person we are angry with but any one’s love.

People like to cite the passage “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (Leviticus 24:20) to justify their angry actions.  Jesus addresses this in Matthew 5:38-42

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’   But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.  If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.  Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.  Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

Jesus tells us to let go of our anger.  The greatest commandment is to love God and the second is to love our neighbor.  Anger keeps us from loving.  Anger can lead us to sin.

To think of it another way, when we sin, does God have a reason to be angry with us?  Yes, but we could on God not acting out his anger towards us.  We want to be forgiven.  We must do the same.  It is the Golden Rule “Do unto whatever you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).

May God help us let go of our anger.


Fr. Jeff

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