Friday of the 1st Week of Lent
Teaching about Anger
An author for Reader’s Digest writes how he studied the Amish people in preparation for an article on them. In his observation at the school yard, he noted that the children never screamed or yelled. This amazed him. He spoke to the schoolmaster. He remarked how he had not once heard an Amish child yell and asked why the schoolmaster thought that was so. The schoolmaster replied, “Well, have you ever heard an Amish adult yell?”
In today’s gospel Jesus speaks three ways to murder people without actually killing their bodies. He says: “Whoever is angry with brother, will be liable to judgment; and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna,” (v. 22). It seems that Jesus is making a level about the seriousness of the different kinds of murdering people without killing their bodies or murder in the heart. Murderous anger makes you liable metaphorically to judgment; calling somebody as “Raca” or treating the other as a non-person or ignoring him, deserves much greater punishment by the Sanhedrin. But treating somebody as a complete idiot or fool deserves being thrown into gehenna, the burning rubbish heap over the wall of Jerusalem.
What is anger? Anger is one of the most basic human emotions. It is a feeling of being against someone or something or themselves. By its very nature, anger involves antagonism. Everyone gets angry. Our body can inform us of when we are angry. According to many psychologists, there are stages of physiological signs of anger, like: A stimulus triggers emotion; Tension or Stress begins to build; Adrenaline is released contributing to growing tension; Breathing rate increases; Heartbeat accelerates; Blood pressure rises; There is now a body and mind “Fight or Flight” response.
Some psychologists would say also that if anger is managed inappropriately it is likely to negatively affect our physical and mental health. Listed are examples of disorders that may develop if anger is suppressed without an outlet like: Headaches, Gastrointestinal disorders, Respiratory disorders, Skin disorders, Genito-urinary disorders, Arthritis, Disabilities of the nervous system; Circulatory disorders; Aggravation of existing physical symptoms, Emotional disturbances and Suicide.
How can we handle our anger in godly ways? Somebody suggested that: First, Acknowledge your anger to God. Don’t pretend that you don’t get angry. We all do. Don’t call it in another way but as it is. Be honest with yourself, and then with God. He knows anyway. Second Learn to get angry slowly. Angry words spoken quickly are usually regretted later. Take time to make sure that you have good reason to be angry. Learn to avoid jumping to unwarranted conclusions. Third, Change your beliefs about God. Our anger problem is rooted not in feelings but in what we believe about God. Fourth, Confess wrong beliefs and repent. It means repenting of all the damage your angry demands have inflicted on God and on others. This will most likely involve availing of the Sacrament of Confession and reaching out to those you’ve harmed with your anger and asking for forgiveness. Fifth, Place your anger under new management. Let us surrender ourselves to Christ and His Word. Under His influence we will find our anger increasingly shaped and restrained by a new kind of self-control.
When anger seems to overtake us, let us look at crucifix, the icon of anger management. Jesus teaches us how to handle anger.