Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Consumed by Anger

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny." Matthew 5:21-26

One of favorite muppets of all times is Oscar the Grouch. Oscar give voice to all of our human crankiness- our anger and love of nasty things, our pettiness and our jealousies and need for isolation and rejection of others. He embodies it and we can laugh at his obvious flaws while we treat our own flaws more honestly. For all his crankiness Oscar is really lovable and benign. He doesn't hold onto anger and is not really driven by it. He hides his compassion and caring well but is really a softie when all is said and done.

Jesus tells the people around him that anger can and does destroy us - not the momentary annoyances or our simple pettiness-es like Oscar's - but the jealousy and rage that consume us and destroy families and communities. So many wonderful communities of faith have been undermined and permanently damaged by angry people. So many children have been destroyed by their parent's anger at one another. So many hurts when forgiveness is not allowed in. And Jesus is firm in his words - this anger can destroy our souls. Lacking forgiveness and reconciliation can destroy all the good we do in an instant.

Today, I ask God to help me forgive those who have harmed me and ask forgiveness of those who I have hurt. I ask to not harbor the hurt nor fan the flames of anger, rather incite joy and forgiveness. May we all ask God to help us be agents of reconciliation and peace this day.

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