This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous are posted below among the other posts and last week’s archives. Here is the 22nd step:
(22) Not to give way to anger.
Whenever Christians think of anger, they usually think of Jesus cleaning house in the Temple. If Jesus got angry, then why is anger a bad thing, most reason? I could add a few more scenes from the Gospel. When Jesus’ disciples awaken him during a storm, he stills the storm and then reacts in anger–rebuking his disciples for their lack of faith (this should not be lost on anyone who has ever been awaken from a sound sleep–which obviously Jesus was enjoying and is a sign of his deep trust in God). When Jesus confronts the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the religious leaders of the time, he does not refrain from reacting angrily to what they say and do.
So it is obvious that anger has a place in the perfect human life of which Our Lord’s is an example. There are times when anger is the right reaction. When we see someone being abused or misled it is appropriate and even holy to be angry–as long as we do something about the anger. It should motivate us to act out in a righteous way.
But “to give way” to anger is another way of saying “to let it fester,” or “to let it take over”. We do nothing about it, but rather let it eat away at us. We allow it to grow into resentment and skepticism. This is neither healthy nor spiritual.
There is a certain school of spirituality that often counsels us to remain silent. Not to speak out but rather suffer silently. Of course, there is some truth to this and Our Lord’s example before Pontius Pilate is an example of when such a practice is right. But there are other times when such silence would be sinful, not spiritual.
The early Christians called their movement not Christianity but “the Way.” Jesus had given his followers a new path to walk. This path is a way of truthfulness and life. Reflecting on the previous step, “to prefer nothing to the love of Christ,” in this step we reject making “anger” the way.
Anger has a place in creation, it was created by God for a purpose, but it’s purpose is not to control us but to motivate us to act.
The imitation of Christ is the sure “way” to making sure that we do not give “way” to anger.
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