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Teaching about anger

Gospel reading: Mt 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.”

In fulfilling the Law of Moses, Jesus points not just to the prohibition of certain acts but to the very root that may give rise to the acts themselves. The fifth commandment of the Decalogue declares, “You shall not kill” (Ex 20:13). “Whoever kills will be liable to judgment” is not an exact quotation from the Old Testament, but a man who strikes a mortal blow is to be punished by death (cf Ex 21:12).

Jesus goes to the root of evil by prohibiting anger, the motive behind murder. There are ways of killing a person even without a mortal blow. It is “killing softly,” as when a person insults another by saying “Raqa” (fool or imbecile). One can also kill by silent treatment, acting as if the other person does not exist.

As one can show love and care by simple acts of kindness, by a smile, or by a touch, so one can show anger and hatred by bodily language or by avoidance. The commandment against murder also covers words and actions that hurt the feelings of another person. And so, as the song goes, “Please be careful with my heart!”

Human as we are, we cannot avoid getting hurt and so we entertain anger, grudge, or revenge.

How do you empty your heart of these emotions?

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.