Wrath and Anger Are Hateful Things

Sept. 17, 2023
We list anger as one of the Seven Deadly Sins. I think that is a bit of a mistake. There is a very natural anger that occurs when someone does something to us, or to someone else that is unjust. It just comes up in us. The initial response of anger is natural and is not of serious consequence unless I do or say something in anger to hurt someone. Usually, we are over the anger in just a few minutes. Now, if I am still angry a week later, then I may actually have a problem.
I think that what we call the Deadly Sin of Anger should actually be called wrath. Wrath is something much deeper and destructive than just getting a bit miffed. Wrath becomes a spiritual poison in our minds and our souls, which damages us and potentially can destroy our souls (mortal sin).

In the first reading for this Sunday, from the Book of Sirach, we are warned that “Wrath and anger are hateful things, but the sinner hugs them tight.” This is not just the natural reaction to someone’s words are actions. The sinner hugs them tight, holds on to them, magnifies them and chews on them as a dog chews on a bone. Those who have an anger or a wrath problem probably have a whole collection of wrongs that they believe that they have suffered, and treat them like a treasure to be nurtured, justified, and constantly reflected upon. Some of us have never forgotten, or forgiven, a single wrong we have suffered.

Sirach tells us that “the vengeful will suffer the Lord’s vengeance, for He remembers their sins in detail.” If we hold on to the sins of others, God will hold on to ours. He asks, “Could anyone nurture anger against another and expect healing from the Lord? Could anyone refuse mercy to others and expect forgiveness for his sins? Forgive your neighbor’s injustice, and when you pray your own sins will be forgiven.
Many of us are still nurturing wrath and anger and are still refusing to grant mercy to others. Could Jesus make it any clearer what the consequences of that will be?
--Fr. Mike Comer

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