not the sun go down upon your anger -Homily March 8, 2015
Some time ago, I was visiting a Parish where
I spent there a couple of weeks. One day I took part in an activity where the
children wanted to play basketball. One of them started to say: “I want
to be a captain of a team”, “I want to be a captain of a team”. The person in
charge told him: “Today we will not have captains.” He then proceeded to divide the children into
two teams. This little boy was very upset and became angry. He went off
to a corner and sat down there. He did not want to either play, nor talk to
anybody. Finally, when he saw the other children playing and having fun, he
went to join them. I know all of us at times were witnesses to stories like
this one. When we talk about children, we realize that we need to give to them
a good education and teach them a good behavior. However, we as adults have
experiences and do things illogical or unreasonable. One of the causes is due
to anger…which I will talk about today.
** * * * *
Anger is a normal emotion with a wide range
of intensity, from mild irritation and frustration to rage. It is a reaction to
a perceived threat to ourselves, our loved ones, our property, our self-image,
or some part of our identity.
Anger has three components: (i) Physical reactions, usually starting with a rush of
adrenaline and responses; (ii) the cognitive experience of anger, or how we
perceive and think about what is making us angry. For example, we might think
something that happened to us is wrong, unfair, and undeserved. (iii) Behavior,
or the way we express our anger. There is a wide range of behavior that signals
anger. We may look and sound angry, turn red, raise our voices, clam up, slam
doors, storm away, or otherwise signal to others that we are angry. We may also
state that we are angry and why, ask for a time-out, request an apology, or ask
for something to change (1).
Anger has deeper roots in rational nature of
human being than any other passion. Anger and reason are capable of great
compatibility, because anger is based upon reason, which weighs the injury done
and the satisfaction to be demanded. We are never angry unless someone has
injured us in some way - or we think he has (2).
Fulton Sheen said: “not all anger is sinful,
for there is such a thing as just anger. The most perfect expression of just
anger we find in our blessed Lord’s cleansing the Temple (John 4:5-42). He
found greedy traders, victimizing at every turn the worshipers who needed lambs
and doves for the Temple sacrifices.
Making a scourge of little cords, He moved
through their midst with a calm dignity and beautiful self-control even more
compelling than the whip. The oxen and sheep He drove out with His scourge.
With His hands, He upset the tables of the money-changers, who scrambled on the
floor after their rolling coins. With His finger, He pointed to the vendors of
doves and bade them leave the outer court. To all He said, ‘Take these things
hence, and make not the house of my Father a house of traffic’.
Here was fulfilled the injunction of the
Scriptures, ‘Be angry, and sin not’ (Eph 4:26) for
anger is no sin under three conditions: if the cause of anger is just, for
example, defense of God's honor; if it is no greater than the cause demands,
that is, if it is kept under control; and if it is quickly subdued: ‘Let not
the sun go down upon your anger.’ (Eph 4:26)” (3).
With unjust anger, namely, that which has no
rightful cause, anger that is excessive, revengeful, and enduring; the
kind of anger and hatred against God that has destroyed religion; the
kind of hatred that is not only directed against God, but also against
fellowmen, the anger that seeks to get even, to repay in kind, bump for bump,
punch for punch, eye for eye, lie for lie; the anger of the clenched fist
prepared to strike, not in defense of that which is loved, but in offense
against that which is hated; in a word, the kind of anger that will destroy our
civilization unless we smother it by love (4).
Uncontrolled or unresolved anger can lead to
the physical health problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, stroke, and stress, which can cause a heart attacks. Also anger
can lead to emotional and mental health problems causing depression, eating
disorders, alcohol or drug abuse, self-injury, low self-esteem and moodiness
Other consequence of anger is resentfulness,
bitterness and hatred.
Be sincere with oneself.
Try to have self-control, self-discipline and more common sense.
Recognize that anger is wrong.
(iv) Discover the root of our
anger and “how logic” is it.
Realize that not only other people can hurt us, but also because of our anger,
we can hurt other people. Perhaps this person, even loved ones, has nothing to
do with our anger, but we let loose our anger against them.
(vi) Understand that anger is damaging
for us, for our health, emotions and relationship with God and neighbours.
Forgive. This is a small Christian secret. Not only forget, but also
bring our forgiveness to our brothers and sisters. Forgetting can help, but if
the person or reason appear again, also our anger will reappear.
Forgive one, two, as many times as it takes. Forgive always.
Forgive from our
heart. Wish good for others, even if they are not good or nice with us.
Furthermore, do good to those who do us evil.
Forgiveness will give us true freedom, true peace and true joy.
These coming days we can reflect on our anger. Am I an angry person.
When, why? I brought its consequences to my neighbour.
Did I hurt somebody? Can I change and repair these situations? How can I deal
and overcome my anger? How can I change my behavior?
Let Our Lady help us to be calm people able to face the difficulties and
injuries with serenity, patience and peace. -Fr. Higinio
Fulton Sheen, Victory over vice, Sophia Institute Press, New York 2004, 3
Fulton Sheen, Victory over vice, 3-4.
Cfr. Fulton Sheen, Victory over vice, 4-5.