Day Thirty: Anger or Patience?

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

For many, anger is a daily struggle. Our minds can easily be tricked into anger when we sense an injustice has been done to us. And though injustices happen, the correct response is not the sin of anger, it is forgiveness, over and over again, and patient endurance through everything. This is difficult because, from a purely natural point of view, anger makes sense. When a grave injustice takes place publicly, people are outraged. When someone fails in his or her responsibility, accountability is demanded. When we are wronged by another, we want justice. These reactions make sense to us because they flow from our fallen human nature. They do not, however, flow from God’s mercy.

Righteous anger, such as Jesus turning over the tables in the Temple, is not the sin of anger. It’s an act of love that seeks to draw a person to repentance. Jesus was not out of control or guided by His passions. He was fully in control and sought passionately to call the people to a more authentic worship for their own good. Only a pure soul consumed with divine love is capable of performing an act of holy anger. Those who do, know that their actions flow from God’s mercy.

During Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter’s fear led to the sin of anger when he drew his sword and severed the ear of a soldier. Jesus, however, went beyond justice and administered mercy by healing the soldier’s ear and telling Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?” (John 18:10). Jesus’ mission was the salvation of souls. He was not there to defend Himself against every injustice, holding everyone immediately accountable by condemning them. He saw the bigger picture of mercy.

We must imitate Jesus and freely embrace injustice. When we do, great spiritual power is unleashed. That spiritual power is far greater than holding someone accountable in the moment and resorting to condemnation. The spiritual power of mercy and forgiveness, as is found in patient endurance of injustice, has the power to change minds and hearts and turn them to God. Condemnation does not.

Similar to spiritual gluttony, spiritual anger often arises when sacrifice is required and spiritual sweetness diminishes. Those who have long felt God’s consolations will eventually find that those consolations fade. When that happens, they become irritated and frustrated that God withdraws His good feelings. These holy souls need to understand that patient endurance in the spiritual life will produce far greater eternal rewards than immediate spiritual sweetness. Some saints spent decades enduring spiritual dryness but persevered through it all in fidelity to the will of God.

From the Cross, Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). If the Son of God can forgive and beg the Father to forgive those who murdered Him as He was dying, then this act calls us all to the same depth of forgiveness. Mercy goes beyond natural human wisdom, requiring a new depth of spiritual wisdom that is found only on the Cross.

Ponder Jesus’ words from the Cross. Make them your own. Consider those in your life whom you hold a grudge against and prayerfully speak those words about them. Do it over and over again, believing in the spiritual wisdom of Jesus’ Cross.

My forgiving Lord, You came to give Your life freely for the salvation of souls, desiring only mercy to be poured forth from Your wounded heart. Please free me from the sin of anger, and place Your divine words in my mouth and soul so that I can continuously say with You, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Jesus, I trust in You.

See also: Day Thirty: 40 Days at the Foot of the Cross

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