FRIDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2015
Mt 5: 20-26
Dealing with anger and resentment in the Christian way
Lent is the “time of grace”. It presents us with a golden opportunity to reflect deeply on the inner movement of the Spirit in our lives and the presence of those negative emotions and feelings that manifest themselves and seek to dictate or control our lives. One such negative emotion that Jesus brings to our attention is “unresolved anger”.
What is anger? Anger is a powerful human emotion often characterized by feelings of great displeasure, indignation, hostility, resentment, wrath and vengeance. When we get angry we lose our minds and control of our lives, we are prone to sin and do things that we shall regret for the rest of our lives. “You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: you must not kill, and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before court. But I say to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court.” (Mt 5: 21-22)
Jesus wants us to take our negative emotions and anger in particular seriously – not just to brush them aside and say, “I have not murdered anyone!” Bad anger is sufficiently destructive, we may not entertain, harbor and make friends with it. He who plays with anger, plays with fire. Jesus asks us to deal with it urgently and not give in to it. We must be honest with ourselves, acknowledge it, name and shame our anger, reflect and pray about it and let it evaporate. Anger that has not been processed and resolved makes us slaves, hostages and prisoners. We lose our inner peace and freedom of the children of God that is found in the Holy Spirit. It also ruins and intoxicates our health of mind, body and soul. The advice of St Paul is very useful here, “Do not let resentment lead you into sin; the sunset must not find you still angry. Do not give the devil his opportunity” (Eph 4: 26-27)
If I am not reconciled with my brothers and sisters I cannot be truly reconciled with God either, therefore I may not even offer God a befitting worship due to him. This is why Jesus makes this imperative: “if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering” (Mt 5:24).
The reason why we must deal with anger and resentment and become reconciled is that we are ultimately called to holiness, that is, to emulate the extravagant and unconditional love of God. “Be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).
➢ Do I have any unresolved anger in my life? If yes, what is it? What is its root cause?
➢ Quietly bring it before the Lord in prayer for healing.
➢ Be reconciled with God, yourself, others and with all creation.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer, “the Our Father” slowly, stop and reflect on the words “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”; then finish the whole Prayer.
Have the most blessed and fulfilling Lenten Season!
+Bishop Vincent Mduduzi Zungu OFM
Diocese of Port Elizabeth