On anger management

HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

That gospel episode about Christ getting angry at those who turned the temple into market place (cfr. Lk 19,45-48) reminds us that anger is indeed a human emotion that has its rightful place in our life.

We just have to manage it well so it does not go overboard. In the case of Christ, his anger did not cancel what his intention was in going to the temple. After driving out those concerned, he proceeded to preach.

We have to be most careful with our anger. It should only be a passing thing that is resorted to as an emergency reaction. We should get over it as soon as possible, and move on to what we ought to do. It should never blind us from our real duties and responsibilities. And most importantly, it should never take away our duty to be always charitable to everyone, including the one who may have caused our anger.

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 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.

For those who have some serious problem in this department, who are irascible with short fuses, great effort should be made to tame their proclivity to anger. Perhaps, some medical and professional help should be resorted to. But definitely, our anger can only be best managed when we try our best to be with Christ as we should.

As one psalm described it, God’s 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) Like God in Christ, we must be slow to anger and quick to forgive. We should just have a strong grip over this particular emotion.

We need to understand that our anger should not just be an effect of some hormones nor simply an expression of a reflex reaction. It has to be purified and guided by reason that in turn should be enlightened and animated by our faith, hope, and charity.

Anger not guided by reason is pure animal anger, not fit for our human dignity as persons and, most especially, as children of God. It would be brute anger, not rational. And if uncorrected, it definitely is a sin. In fact, it’s one of the capital sins. It not only would be against our human nature. It would also be against God’s law. It opens the gates for other worse things to afflict us.

We need to see the facile vulnerability of our anger to all forms of disorder that can range from pride to vanity to envy to hatred, etc. That is why it needs to be quickly purified and subjected to the requirements of right reason that is enlightened by faith, hope, and charity. Thus, that advice of St. Paul not to let the sun set on our anger, giving the devil a foothold (cfr. Eph 4,26-27).

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