Again, Jesus entered the synagogue. A man, who had a paralyzed hand, was there; and some people watched Jesus: would he heal the man on the Sabbath? If he did, they could accuse him.
Jesus said to the man with the paralyzed hand, “Stand here, in the center.” Then he asked them, “What does the law allow us to do on the Sabbath? To do good or to do harm? To save life or to kill?” But they were silent.
Then Jesus looked around at them with anger and deep sadness at their hardness of heart. And he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was healed. As soon as the Pharisees left, they met with Herod’s supporters, looking for a way to destroy Jesus.
“Jesus looked around at them with anger.” This statement of today’s gospel reading should make us pause. Because few Christians have a balanced view of anger.
Perhaps because anger (under the old-fashionable name of “wrath”) is listed among the Seven Deadly Sins, many Christians think of anger as essentially sinful. And they regularly confess it as a sin: “Father, I was angry three times.” But today’s gospel reading tells us a very different story. It spells out in black and white that Jesus was angry at times. So! How can any form of anger be a sin if Jesus himself felt angry on some occasions?
The answer to this question is very simple: a feeling is never sinful in itself, because sin essentially resides in one’s will. Feelings and passions are gifts from God to help us negotiate life’s problems. Anger is a gift from God. It is meant to energize us when fighting injustice, protecting the weak, promoting great causes, etc. Without anger, we would be as effective as a pancake! But anger is raw energy which can easily get out of control. It is what we do with our anger which makes it sinful or beautiful.
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