Readings: Ezek 18:21-28; Matt 5:20-26
Scripture: But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment . . . (Matt 5:22)
Reflection: Our entire world seems short-fused these days. On a good day it might mean an angry tirade directed at you from a “friend” on social media or from a car in the next lane in a traffic jam. On a bad day it could mean violence erupting right before your eyes or unfolding on TV. A shooting at the one extreme, a shouting match at the other, both of them stemming from the same seed: anger tinged with resentment. After reading about the shooting in Las Vegas that claimed fifty-eight lives and injured hundreds more in late 2017, I sat at my kitchen table in upstate New York, tears streaming down my face, and prayed to be a more peaceful person myself, knowing that peace must begin—as the classic song tells us—with me. We may look at tragic violence and imagine that it remains completely separate from us. We wouldn’t shoot anyone. We wouldn’t cause harm. Meanwhile, many of us hold anger in our hearts, often over minor offenses. We all have some level of anger, whether we express it or repress it. My anger affects my loved ones and friends; your anger affects your loved ones and friends. And although we may not realize it, our collective anger, both spoken and unspoken, seeps out into the world making it a little less peaceful. So, when you think you can’t do anything to stop the violence in the world, think again, and start right where you are. Today, put aside your anger, even if it’s seemingly justified, and cultivate peace instead. Do your part to stop the madness.
Meditation: In today’s gospel, Jesus makes it clear that anger does not hurt only others; it hurts us. We can’t be truly free and forgiven unless we are willing to forgive, and forgiving means letting go of the anger we carry like an albatross around our neck. Is there someone who needs your forgiveness today? Is there a hurt you’ve been holding onto? What would it take to let that go? Can you make amends and begin the healing process—for yourself, for your loved one, for the world?
Prayer: God of mercy, teach me to forgive others as I wish to be forgiven. Help me to loosen the bonds of anger and resentment that separate me from you and from those around me and to plant seeds of peace in our world.
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