I tell you, if your sense of right and wrong is not keener than that of the Lawyers and the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
You have heard, that it was said to our people in the past: Do not commit murder; anyone who murders will have to face trial. But now, I tell you: whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial. Whoever insults a brother or sister is liable, to be brought before the council. Whoever calls a brother or sister “Fool!” is liable, of being thrown into the fire of hell. So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there, in front of the altar; go at once, and make peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift to God.
Don’t forget this: be reconciled with your opponent quickly when you are together on the way to court. Otherwise he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, who will put you in jail. There, you will stay, until you have paid the last penny.
Many Christians think they sin if they feel anger. But we are not responsible for feeling spontaneously anything. Feelings are in themselves amoral. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states unambiguously, “in themselves passions are neither good nor evil. They are morally qualified only to the extent that they effectively engage reason and will” (n.1767). In other words, a passion such as anger, for example, is morally good if it contributes to a good action and it is morally bad if it contributes to an evil action.
Anger is a gift of God, a gift of raw energy meant for fuelling our actions with intensity, force, depth. How can we fight abuses (v.g. child abuse), defend the weak (v.g. fight human trafficking) and attack tyrants without anger? Without anger we would all be like flat pancakes! However, the danger with anger is that it is an explosive force which can easily get out of control and degenerate into abusive language, insults, etc., as Jesus warns us in today’s gospel reading. But Jesus himself got angry sometimes (Mk 3:5), so anger in itself is not evil.
As Paul writes to the Ephesians: “Be angry, but do not sin” (Eph 4:26).
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