“Ceasing to react, learning to respond!”
(Based on Ezek 18:21-28 and Mt 5:20-26)
Sinbad the Sailor is a fictional character.
His tales are mostly voyage stories – fantastic adventure stories through the seas of Africa and South Asia.
One of the tales narrates of how Sinbad and his sailors landed on an island.
On arriving, they saw coconuts, high up on the trees; which could very well quench their thirst and satisfy their hunger.
But these coconuts were far beyond their reach.
However, they noticed a large number of monkeys on the branches of the trees.
Soon enough, Sinbad and his men, began to throw stones and sticks up at the apes.
This enraged the monkeys and they began to seize the coconuts…
… and hurl them down at the men on the ground.
This was exactly what Sinbad and his men wanted!
They got the monkeys so angry…
… that they gave in to satisfy the needs of those who made them angry!
This is exactly what anger does…
… we play ourselves, into the hands of those who cause us to lose our temper!
We end up “reacting”…
… than “responding”!
The Gospel of the day is a teaching by Jesus on this very important concern of Christian Life: Anger.
Killing is considered to be a serious evil in every society and every religion.
Killing in its basic form is usually considered only in the sense of the physical body.
But the Lord today presents a higher perspective in the understanding of killing…
“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill’; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment’.
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to the judgment….” (Mt 5: 21)
The Lord expands the understanding of killing beyond the physical body…
A person engages in an act of killing… if, by anger…
…the emotional state of the other person is injured
…the spiritual balance of the other person is wounded
We could understand anger from various perspectives…
- Anger as Quick temper
Prov 15:18 says, “An ill-tempered man stirs up strife…”
It is said that if you speak when you are angry, one makes the best speech that would be regretted much!
Quick temper sometimes…
… forms part of our temperament
… comes even unknowingly
… is instigated by other’s actions
Yet, in all this, one ought to…
… rise quickly from remaining in the state of anger.
… become conscious of the occasions which can excite anger
… see that the temper is not fed or nurtured or intensified
- Anger which leads to stubbornness
Eph 4:26: “…. do not let the sun to set on your anger”
Sometimes, the anger within is allowed to grow so much…
…that we get habituated to getting angry for even tiny and trivial matters
…that we lose our peace of mind, and sometimes even become indifferent
…that we choose not to budge from our position or viewpoint and remain adamant
Yet, we need to make efforts…
… to try to overcome our ego and self mentality and seek to make amends with the person
… to lower oneself in humility (even if we are right) and ease the situation of annoyance
Anger needs to be sanctified…channelled in the proper way!
One may feel a ‘just’ anger at….
… the immense corruption in the world and even in religious circles
… the forces of evil that seem to root away even faint traces of hope
… the indifferent and unchanging attitudes and temperaments of people which is sickening.
Yet… even these ought to get channelled properly
…even these ought to be routed in the right manner
Yes… even our just anger needs to be sanctified and purified in the burning furnace of God’s Love.
Anger is indeed a major tendency that is a cause of distress for many of us.
Anger is indeed a prime inclination that is a root of sin for many of us.
There are moments, when anger captures us and we throw ourselves into people…
… throw words which are not appropriate
… throw emotions that would cause shame and guilt later
… throw actions and deeds that would cause pain and injury
Let us seek to make genuine, practical and realistic efforts in the fight to sanctify and purify our anger.
… it is painstaking
… it requires deeper attempts
… it requires committed determination!
But the Lord assures His grace to help us and His Love to encourage us!
Through the Prophet Ezekiel, God reminds us of His Mercy to those who honestly repent and turn back to Him:
“If a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes…
… And does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die!” (Ezek 18:21)
Let us make efforts to be people, who not simply “react”…
… instead, in patience and gentleness, seek to “respond”!
God Bless! Live Jesus!