By Lori Wilson, co-chair, Associates Leadership Team
I’m shocked at Jesus in this past Sunday’s Gospel! Frustrated, angry, making whips, dumping money, overturning tables. It doesn’t sound like the calm, peaceful loving Jesus we may want to reflect in our blessed and broken world. Who is this? This is not the peaceful Jesus who companions me every day. There has to be a message for me in this Gospel.
Recently, we have had fundraisers after Mass in the vestibule of my Church. I’ve seen 50/50 tickets sold and, at one time, the winning ticket was pulled in the Church, from the ambo. If someone came into Church today with a whip, spilling money, and overturning tables, we would call 911. There is no doubt about it. So, I ask again, what is the hidden message in this Gospel for me, and maybe for you, this Lent?
For me, it has to do with the sacredness of all of the range of emotions that humans experience, from sadness to joy, to disappointment and rage. Jesus was expressing, what feels to me like, disappointment and frustration through his anger. This year I have felt disappointment and frustration at the continued racial violence and systemic racism in our country and I’ve often expressed this through anger. I’ve been embarrassed over our contentious presidential election and again I’ve turned to anger. I’ve been frustrated living under the cloud of COVID-19, the immense loss of life, and at times I have turned to anger.
I also am aware that, as a woman especially, I tend to be very careful how I express my anger. I’ve been called “feisty,” “over-emotional,” and “a bit out of control,” and this has never felt good. In fact, it often incites stronger emotions! Yet Jesus calls me to embrace my emotions, all of them, not just some of them!
Lent is a time for transformation, for renewal. I’m called to embrace all of the gifts that I have been given. Our emotions are a gift. I will not express my anger by turning over tables and making a whip, but I will use my words to express myself with respect when I have something to say.
The surprising thing in a Gospel is often what God calls me to look at. Of course, Jesus was not violent, he told people to turn the other cheek and to put away the sword. So there must be another message here. I think it’s that holy anger is something to be recognized and to be used to help express the truth we see, with respect, with an eye to making the world into the reign of God that Jesus told us we could create, and to allow Jesus to be Jesus, not just love the peaceful companion I have made him out to be. I’m called to embrace all of who Jesus is, even as someone who can get angry.
- What emotions do I hesitate to express? Why?
- How is God calling me to embrace all of my emotions?
- Do I have holy anger that I hold back from sharing in appropriate ways? What causes it? How can I express it in ways that can make a difference?