I seem to be getting good at stirring up trouble without intending to. Last week I spoke about the reading from Sirach where we hear, “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight” and Jesus’ parable concerning the forgiveness of debts.
Certainly there are many things to be angry about. People (on both sides of the aisle) mentioned to me the political situation in particular and the racism and violence that are so present in our country. The shooting of the two police officers who were targeted in their police car, and the protestors who tried to keep them from the emergency room, is an especially egregious example.
My point and the point of the Scriptures was not that there are not good reasons to be angry. Rather, we are challenged to reflect on how our anger helps us, or our society, or those around us.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of “militant non-violence,” which opposes evil with love and without anger, bitterness and rancor. Mahatma Gandhi spoke of “satyagraha,” or “truth force,” to make the same point. Both base their philosophies of non-violence on the teachings of Jesus, who taught us to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors, to turn the other cheek, and to return good for evil. This is the most radical and counter-intuitive teaching of Jesus, and the most challenging.
Loving our enemies is not denying that they are our enemies. We do not deal in fantasy. When we see political or societal situations that are evil and destructive, we must stand up to them and seek to change things; but without hatred and anger in our hearts. If we hold on to the anger that we believe is “justified,” then we are contributing to the negativity in the world. Even when trying to accomplish good, we are part of the problem. This is why Christians are not allowed the luxury of even justified anger.
Holding on to anger will also harm us physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is a poison, a cancer that corrodes and damages us in every way imaginable.
Hatred will never conquer hatred. Anger will never defeat anger. Violence may briefly stop violence, but will ultimately lead to greater violence. Only love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness will accomplish these things.
Along these lines, over the past few weeks I have been accused of being a radical liberal Democrat and of being an arch-conservative Republican, a supporter of Joe Biden, and a supporter of Donald Trump, of not caring enough about abortion and of caring too much about abortion.
In my own defense, I am not a Republican or a Democrat, and I will not be voting for either Joe Biden or Donald Trump. My plan is to write in a candidate, whom I have not yet determined. I strive to be pro-life across the board, which is why I oppose abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, war, racism, torture, and violence in all its forms and why I support just and compassionate treatment of migrants and refugees, prisoners, the poor, and victims of crime and abuse. I try, not always successfully, to be faithful to these matters and to Christ in general, without anger and wrath in my heart.
(Please read the item below on the RCIA for Catholics.)
— Fr. Mike Comer