A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 5:20-26
Jesus said to his disciples: "I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. "You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."
REFLECTION: "whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment..."
The Christmas candle in the jar flickered quietly as I baked cookies. The wick was small and the wax pool had year old melted wax. The Christmas scent permeated the kitchen and Christmas joy was all around. Then, without notice, there was a foot long flame coming from the beautiful jar. Immediately I took the jar to the sink and did what one should never do--poured water on the burning candle. Guess everyone knows what happened next-- the flame worsened, the steam rolled out, the smoke was thick, the hot wax splattered and there were shards of glass all over the kitchen sink and counters. Thanking God that was all the damage.
Anger is like fire. It can quickly get out of control. The smoke and steam does not allow one to see clearly. It is okay to feel anger but we are told to control or suppress what we do with that feeling with mercy, kindness and forgiveness.
Anger that takes root in our heart corrupts the heart. It fans the dying embers. It broods, carries a grudge, gives way to tantrums, verbal outbursts, revenge, resentment, passive aggressive behavior, hostile behavior, intentionally being irritating and just plain waiting for "payback". Sinful anger allows us to be critical of one another. All this is forbidden by God.
Jesus has told us in today's gospel that if we are angry with our brother we will be liable to judgment. The Catholic Catechism (#2302) defines sinful anger and St Paul in Galatians 5:20-21 confirms..."those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
God has forgiven us from the cross and through His love and grace He can free us of spitefulness and injured pride. Today let us ask God to set us free and to infuse our hearts with His love and grace. Only God can put out the fire of anger. With perseverance and patience ask the Holy Spirit for help.
Do we need to discern the causes of our anger? Do we know how to forgive and ask for forgiveness? Do we want to go to heaven? As we deal with one another, may we pray that anger in our church, in our family or toward priests may be quickly checked and controlled before we commit sin. Let us pray that our priests not harbor anger in their hearts.