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On anger and preaching

On anger and preaching

Friday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
By Fr. Roy Cimagala

We cannot deny that there are moments when we find ourselves angry, or even when we need to be angry. We just have to learn how to handle this emotion that in itself is neither good or bad. It depends on how we do it.

In this regard, it might be good to take a look again at that occasion when Christ got angry with those who turned the temple area into a marketplace. (cfr. Lk 19,45-48) We can also take this occasion to realize how we, especially priests, ought to preach so that like Christ in this gospel episode, we can attract people to our words.

As noted in that occasion, people were hanging to Christ’s words such that those who wanted to put Christ to death could not carry out their plan.

Yes, anger is one of our God-given emotions, locked into our nature as persons. It has its legitimate use. But precisely because of our precarious human condition here on earth, we have to be wary of it. In fact, anger is also considered one of the capital sins, along with pride, envy, greed, lust, gluttony, sloth, that can beget many other sins.

If ever we have to be angry, let’s try our best to be angry in the spirit of Christ who showed anger over the self-righteous Pharisees and scribes, and over those who turned the temple area into a marketplace. Christ’s anger is what is called righteous anger, one that is done always in charity and in the truth, and not just due to opinions and biases. It’s an anger that is meant to correct, purify, heal.

Besides, Christ’s anger is only momentary. It does not last long. As a psalm would put it, “his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime. Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (30,5) He is slow to anger, and quick to forgive.

We really have to learn how to hold our horses, especially when we feel provoked or incited. We have to lengthen our patience, our capacity to suffer. We have to broaden our mind so we can we can quickly and easily capture the more important things in a given issue rather than react immediately to things that are only incidental to that issue.

With respect to preaching, we have to understand that it is a task entrusted to his apostles and shared by all of us in different ways. The clergy take a leading role in this affair. It’s a serious business that involves our whole being, and not just our talents and powers.

Obviously, to carry out this mission, we need to know our Lord and his teachings. We have to go to him and read the Gospel. Reading and meditating on it should be a regular practice for us, a habit meant to keep us in touch with him.

Thus, every time we read the Gospel, we have to understand by our faith that we are engaging with our Lord in an actual and living way. We are listening to him, and somehow seeing him. We can use our imagination to make ourselves as one more character in any scene depicted by the Gospel.

For this, we need to look for the appropriate time and place. We have to be wary of our tendency to be dominated by a lifestyle of activism and pragmatism that would blunt our need for recollection and immersion in the life of Christ.