The Scripture readings for this week are very important for the times in which we live. Our first reading, from the Book of Sirach speaks of wrath and anger as hateful things which sinners cling to tightly. And the Gospel gives us Jesus’ response to Peter’s question, “If my brother sins against me, how many times must I forgive him.”
We are living in angry times. If we listen to cable news, especially the talk and commentary parts (which I do not suggest), anger and wrath, self-righteous indignation and outrage are the flavor of the day. People are angry about the pandemic and being required to wear masks and to socially distance from one another and the economic setbacks due to the virus and regulations.
There is great anger in our streets because of racism and police brutality, and there is anger towards those who are protesting, and most clearly towards those who are using violence as a means of protest. There is plenty of anger and wrath in our political discourse, and being now in the midst of a presidential election, that anger and wrath is reaching new heights.
Because of this anger and wrath, people are being touchier and less tolerant towards those around them including family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. I wonder, given Jesus’ words about the necessity of forgiving others, how we are doing with that.
Christ is the bringer of peace. He is the Prince of Peace. He has come to reconcile the human race to God and to one another, and we, his followers, must commit to being part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.
In the Prayer of Saint Francis we say, “Make me a channel of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.” There can be no better plan for our lives and for how we live during this time of crisis.
At the end of his first inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln, addressing the wrath and anger of that time, which was threatening to divide the country and to break out into war, spoke these famous words, “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Let each of us look deeply within and recognize if wrath and anger and unforgiveness are dwelling within our hearts. Are we being motivated and guided by the “better angels of our nature” or by worse angels? Will we hear the call to repentance and conversion so that we might be instruments of peace and healing, rather than instruments of rancor, division, and hatred?
— Fr. Mike