Grace to you!
Bitter anger, also called wrath, is one of the seven capital or deadly sins. The others include lust, avarice (greed), envy, pride, gluttony, and sloth.
The simplest way to describe anger using a contemporary phrase is "losing our cool." It is mainly when this occurs in a more prolonged way than usual. One could call such bitter anger. Anger happens when we are bitter, momentarily, or for a protracted period, so much so we say or do something that isn't polite, kind, or charitable. Or, we fail to be nice. Sometimes, it could lead to violence.
For example, somebody is cutting in your line without seeking your permission. The person doesn't even seem to care about the reckless driving. You could quickly get upset.
Another example: You find out your friend was the culprit in a blackmail against you. It can break anybody's heart. You are devastated. One of your emotions or reactions could be to become angry and choose to respond by doing something as grave or graver, to pay him or her in kind.
Don't we sometimes have a feeling of vengeance, especially when someone has hurt us? Anger breeds in wounds. When people feel hurt, trampled upon, exploited, or put down, the hurt could fuel anger.
The feeling of anger is natural to us. Hence, it's one of our most subtle temptations. It could be real or imagined. In the spirit, the angry person wears the ugly face of bitterness. It is not a healthy feeling for anyone.
The Lord Jesus shows us in the Gospel of Matthew 5:21-26, how to manage or deal with anger. He relates anger to the spirit of violence, including murder. The Lord invites us to practice temperance and forgiveness instead of bitter anger
One may ask: But wait! It begs the question. How about those bad guys who make things difficult for us? How about those who treat us unjustly and are mean toward us? Do we forgive them as well? Are we not entitled to be angry towards them?
Hard as the above scenario may be, if we want inner peace and healing as believers, we shouldn't allow anger to sediment and settle in. Choosing not to forgive and bear hurtful anger isn't in our best interest or that of our spiritual and emotional wellbeing.
Unforgiveness feeds anger. Therefore, the fastest way to nip anger in the bud is to forgive the person(s) and the past. During this Lent, focusing on how to replace anger with a kind, forgiving heart is a virtue worth practicing.
To do this, envisage the person who has hurt you the most or the least. You know what works best for your personality. Begin by dealing with the hurt and the anger it fuels head-on. Prayerfully, replace the angry feeling with kind and forgiving sentiments. Find one or two reasons to forgive.
Let me conclude with this advice from St. Paul: "Do not let resentment lead you into sin; the sunset must not find you still angry. Do not give the devil his opportunity" (Eph. 4:26-27).
Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Friday, Lenten Weekday, week 1: Ez 18: 21-28; Mt 5:20-26]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.