First – just a couple of things I need to mention…
First – I should have included my sister on the prayer list the other day. She had her right knee replaced yesterday morning. Offer up a prayer for her when you’re saying your prayers today. I know she will appreciate that.
Second – my wife’s husband is not Chris – it is Jerry (me). My daughter Mary, my brother and sister pointed out the gaff I had the other day. As a matter of fact, my daughter highlighted the mistake and sent it to me asking if I saw the typo. I read it at least six times and still didn’t see that I should have typed daughter’s husband Chris and not my wife’s husband Chris (which should put to rest the rumor that my wife is Mormon and has flipped the tradition and taken on multiple husbands).
In today’s gospel, not knowing what was meant when Jesus referred to Raqa, I went to the footnotes of today’s Gospel. I am in trouble. * [5:22] Anger is the motive behind murder, as the insulting epithets are steps that may lead to it. They, as well as the deed, are all forbidden. Raqa: an Aramaic word rēqā’ or rēqâ probably meaning “imbecile,” “blockhead,” a term of abuse. How many times have I called my brothers blockhead (or worse)? And most the time I called them by whatever derogatory name I could think of at the time was because of Anger. Not a just anger but a jealous anger.
Growing up we would have epic pillow fights downstairs in our house. You would take your feather pillow and shake all the feathers down to one end and put a death grip on the loose fabric and swing for the fences. It all started with good intentions but once you’ve been cold cocked a couple of times, good intentions were out the door and you were looking to knock someone out. There were six of us (I’m shocked my two youngest brothers survived these fights) and there were no sides taken, just six pillows swinging widely until we were too exhausted to do it anymore or until one our parents came downstairs. Then we were taught the true meaning of “offering the other cheek” as we were usually spanked on the back end for our bad behavior.
I had a point in mind when I started typing, I’m going to try and get back to it now. Just like our pillow fights originally started out just to have some fun, anger ended up getting the best of us and they usually didn’t end well. I see that a lot today; many practices are started with good intentions but end up taking unexpected twists and turns, leaving many people angry with each other. I believe what Christ is calling each and everyone of us to do is to settle that anger with each other; make peace.
Is all anger unjust? No, not if that anger is based on love. Throughout the Gospel we read about the anger of God. Is that bad? No, God is love, God is only love and because of this, God’s anger is a just anger and used for the betterment of man. We on the other hand are human and not all of our anger is justified. We must know the difference between a just anger and a jealous anger. The only way of knowing this difference is to study the works of our God and His Son. We must adopt a way of life that mirrors the good works of the Lord. We must pray for and put to practice the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We must have a humble and contrite heart. And most of all, we must understand that we are all sinners and in need of forgiveness.
A jealous anger is sinful – we are all called to turn away from sin. From today’s first reading…
Thus says the Lord GOD:
If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed,
if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him;
he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced.
Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked?
says the Lord GOD.
Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way
that he may live?
Do something great for our Lord today – turn away from sin and repent – believe in the Gospel.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.
He must increase; I must decrease.