Anger and outrage certainly have a place in our life. They are natural reactions to events and situations that are truly horrible. But we have to be most careful with them. They should not be allowed to last long, and much less to dominate us for good.
Christ himself showed anger when he discovered that the temple area was turned into a market place. (cfr. Mt 21, 12-13) But he no doubt was a man of peace and meekness. He is referred as the Prince of Peace (cfr.Is 9, 6) and he taught that we be like him since he is “meek and humble of heart.” (cfr. Mt 11, 29)
St. Paul told us to be wary of anger and outrage. “Be angry, yet do not sin. Do not let the sun set upon your anger, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Eph 4, 26-27)
It is worthwhile to note the close connection between getting angry and falling into the devil’s trap. We should therefore be controlling of our anger and outrage. And that’s because anger and outrage can easily turn into hatred which is already a sin.
We have to remember that no matter how bad things are, those who commit them or are involved in them are still our brothers and sisters, are still children of God whom we have to love the way God loves all of us, friend or foe.
Yes, we have to hate the sin, but we should always love the sinner, and help him to change his ways. That’s what real love is. It is willing to suffer for the person who needs to be helped, to be converted, to put in the right direction.
Our problem is that we do not like to go through the bother of helping sinners change their ways. We only want things or situations that are comfortable, convenient, favorable to us. But that is not what Christ has taught us.
Christ told us not to follow the law of Talion — “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.” Instead, he commanded us to love even our enemies. In fact, we went on to say that we “bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Mt 5, 44)
We will surely find this commandment hard if not impossible to do, given our human condition. But with God’s grace, we can. We just have to learn to adapt our ways to Christ’s ways.
St. Peter, in his first letter, reiterated the same point. “When they heaped abuses on him (Christ),” he said, “he did not retaliate. When he suffered, he made no threats, but entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (2, 23)
Then St. Peter gave the reason for this behavior of Christ: “He himself (Christ) bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. ‘By his stripes you are healed’…” (2, 24)
We have to be quick to assume this frame of mind when we are offended by someone or something, or when we are made to suffer. We have to be quick to unite our suffering to the suffering of Christ so that our suffering would cease to be simply a negative thing, but one that would have tremendous purifying and redemptive power.
Yes, such attitude and behavior would appear like stupidity according to human standards, but that is not so in God’s eyes. Like St. Paul, we should just consider ourselves fools for Christ, weak and dishonored for him. “When we are cursed, we bless. When we are persecuted, we endure it. When slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth.” (1 Cor 4, 10-13)
But remember that St. Paul also said: “The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Cor 1, 25)/WDJ