Today’s Gospel: Mark 11:11-26
Righteous anger does exist; Jesus displays it perfectly in today’s Gospel when He dramatically turns over the tables of merchandise at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rebukes those buying and selling there. I have taken refuge in this illustration of Jesus’ anger, because I am prone to it myself—not always the holy anger depicted here, but I am reminded that anger is a very human response to (at least perceived) injustice. Like every other human characteristic, it is a double-edged sword that can manifest as an extreme vice or helpful movement toward necessary change.
Jesus was like us in every way except sin. To believe this is to recognize and accept His very human response in today’s Gospel; before He approached the Temple, we learn that He was hungry and admonished a fig tree for its lack of fruit. Jesus was hungry. He got angry. Jesus can relate to my personal frustrations.
Despite this raw expression of His humanity, Jesus once again resumes our focus on the importance of faith, and confidence in faith as He speaks to Peter about the fig tree that withered away after Jesus’ admonishment: “Have faith in God…all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you shall receive it and it shall be yours. When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions.”
When our natural response to hunger or fear or exhaustion or injustice is anger, Jesus quickly turns us toward humility by reminding us that we are far from perfect ourselves. He speaks of forgiveness when we are slighted by other people’s cruelty. Instead of the destruction and despondency that can result from angry outbursts and spiteful backlash, He lifts our hearts to prayers of thanksgiving and immense faith that God can and does move mountains when we turn to Him with a humble and contrite heart.
Let us offer Jesus our emotional responses to life’s daily circumstances as an offering of prayer, acknowledging the beauty and fluidity of every feeling, but equally desiring temperance and humility when expressing difficult emotions to the people in our lives.
Do I permit myself to feel intense and difficult emotions without guilt? Do I take my emotional responses to prayer, asking God to heal my wounds and for His Holy Spirit to speak in and through me? Do I recognize that, while feelings are neither good nor bad, they must be tempered through careful discernment so that I can be an agent of healing rather than division? How can I be authentic in my expression and temperance of my emotions?
Jesus, I thank you for the gifts of emotions that manifest the innermost workings of my heart. I thank you for righteous anger, for moving my heart to action when facing severe injustice, for convicting my heart to help those in extremely dire situations. I thank you, ultimately, for your love and for opening my heart this day to the love you have in store for me. Amen.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing