Righteous Anger

I like to read the newspaper as I have my morning coffee and breakfast. Every now and then a story jumps at me and makes me a little mad. Just the other day I was incensed by a story about a 90-year-old man who was cited by his city government officials for serving food to the homeless. I do understand that certain health regulations should be followed. However, to punish someone for doing good seems ridiculous to me. How ironic it is that the Land of the Free has many more rules and regulations than most countries!

I do get angry sometimes. I get angry that in a land of plenty some children go hungry. I get angry when people treat others badly. I get angry over ISIS that is persecuting Christians and selling women as sex-slaves. I get angry when a selfish driver on the right lane tries to sneak ahead of all the cars waiting at a red light. I get angry that the Caste System treats millions of Indians as sub-humans just because of their birth. Injustice does get me mad.

Some people think that we should never get angry. Anger, just like other emotions, is not bad in and of itself. What are we angry about? That is the relevant question. If someone never gets angry that person is either clueless or apathetic. Thomas Alva Edison once said: “Show me a totally satisfied man and I will show you a failure.” Lack of anger or passion originates from a sense of complacency.

The gospels tell us that Jesus Himself got angry. He was enraged by the injustice that was being committed within the Temple precincts by the money-changers and the sellers of doves and lambs for sacrifice. He was so angry that He made a whip of cords and cleared the Temple because they had turned the House of Prayer into a den of thieves. Commenting on this scene, a well-known Scripture scholar, William Barclay, writes: 

We are told that he took cords and made a whip. Jerome thinks that the very sight of Jesus made the whip unnecessary. "A certain fiery and starry light shone from his eyes, and the majesty of the Godhead gleamed in his face." Just because Jesus loved God, he loved God's children, and it was impossible for him to stand passively by while the worshippers of Jerusalem were treated in this way.

Anger is energy. It can be either destructive or constructive. If that energy is channeled in the right direction, it can produce beautiful things. If Rosa Parks had not been angry about the situation of Blacks, she would not have refused to give up her seat on the bus. If Mahatma Gandhi had not been mad about the way he was treated on a train, he would not have started the fight for the rights of coloreds in South Africa and for the freedom of India. Candice Lightner was angry when her 13-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver. She channeled her anger into a movement that created MADD (Mothers against Drunk Driving).
If I want to know what is important to me, I should ask myself another question: “What makes me mad?” I am mad that there is not enough righteous anger in our society and in our world today. Where is the anger in our world today when women are trafficked in the sex trade? Where is our anger when minorities are killed in Syria and Iraq by a group of thugs claiming to fight for God? Where are the angry feminist voices when girls are abducted by terrorists and given away as prizes to old men? Where is our righteous anger when the divide between the haves and the have-nots is ever widening? Where is our justified anger when millions of helpless unborn are disposed of under the guise of choice and women’s rights?

We all need to feel righteous anger from time to time. Such anger is the springboard for action and change. We cannot be apathetic. We need to care. We need to speak out. Following the Master who chased out demons, the disciples must fight evil wherever they find it.

Let us get angry – for the right things. Writing three hundred years before Christ, Aristotle said it best: “Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.” 

May the peace of God reign in our hearts!

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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