18 January, Wednesday — Anger Issues

Wednesday of Week 2 in Ordinary Time

Heb 7:1-3,15-17
Mk 3:1-6

“…grieved to find them obstinate, he looked angrily round at them…”

Do you suffer from anger issues? I know I do. Do you understand what anger is and where it comes from? I thought I did but realised that I didn’t truly understand the passion of anger, until I listen to a podcast, All Things Catholic, by Dr. Edward Sri.

When we think of anger, we think of rage; perhaps violent rage, or a silent seething in our soul that changes our demeanor and the temperature around us. Anger is often connected to something negative. We understand that. Even Jesus tells us that we should not be angry with our brothers, as that is a sin. Then why does the Bible tell of incidences where Jesus was angry?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that anger is good, we should not let loose on our rage. No, in contrast, we need to understand anger in order to control it, for our good and the good of others. Anger, in itself, is a passion, which is neither good nor bad. Like most desires, it is neutral, it is only when they become unordered desires, and it depends on what we do with that passion.

If anger is righteous, it is designed to stand up for the truth, to set things right, to promote the Father’s will. Jesus exercised righteous anger for the good of others, to correct them, to steer them in the right direction. If anger is unrighteous, it is an unordered desire for punishment, for revenge, and a sure-fire way to lose our inner peace.

In order for us to gain control of our anger, and not become a slave to this passion, we need to understand where it comes from. Most of the time, anger arises because we feel affronted, our pride gets damaged. Other times, we feel thwarted, our desire to control is not satisfied. And sometimes, anger comes because we are wounded by others, perhaps even loved ones. When we feel any of these things, our blood starts boiling, our blood pressure starts going up and we lash out, either in words, actions or silently in our minds. This unbridled passion not only hurts those around us, but ourselves since it causes us to lose inner peace and joy.

In his podcast, Dr. Sri quoted St. Francis de Sales on some methods of keeping anger in check. If you are interested, do listen to his podcast and find out for yourselves. I will list a couple of the tips given here. First, when we notice anger rising, do not engage. Do not dwell on the wrongdoing that we perceive has been committed, usually again us. Do not live in your head and replay the scenario over and over again — fueling the fire — so to speak. Second, this seems so obvious, but we should pray and ask for God’s help. Ask for the Grace to keep the anger in check so that we don’t become a slave to this emotion. If we do fall (and inevitably, we will) and get angry, we should make amends as quickly as possible.

There is one distinction that is important to point out. Anger is not all bad when it is used for the right things. For example, we should be angry at the injustice at the treatment of the poor, and of the pervasive harm done to women and unborn children in abortions. We should be angry; we should speak up for the truth and against any injustices. But we do not let loose on rage or violence in the spirit of punishment. Anger should come from love to correct what is wrong and not to seek revenge for our own cause. Jesus was angry because He loved the Pharisees and wanted them to be better. Jesus never got angry because others mistreated Him. He forgives all of them and all of us.

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Winnie Kung)

Prayer: Dear Lord, grant us the Grace to keep our anger in check, to follow Your footsteps and only have righteous anger for protecting the truth and to fight against injustices.  Help us to squash any unrighteous anger, and not let it take hold of our hearts, minds and souls and not let it destroy our inner peace. 

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we thank You for giving us the desire to right any wrong, to promote peace and joy.  Grant that we may use the desires given to us to glorify Your name.

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