Reflection with Canon Pat Browne - On the gift of anger


image: LumoProject.com

image: LumoProject.com

There is nothing so powerful as when a person who is usually serene, thoughtful, compassionate and kind, gets angry. Everyone sits up and takes notice. Why? Because this is not how they usually are. So, there must be a very good reason for this outburst.

I remember such an occasion in my seminary days when a friend who was like this, one day exploded in anger at an injustice that had been done. The fact that he got angry sort of validated the rest of us guys who were more firey by nature - that we were not out of order at our angry response.

Jesus erupts like this in the temple when he sees what is going on. The people are coming to buy animals or birds of top class stock to offer in the temple because only the best is good enough for God. But in fact they are sold second class or defective stock and are charged enormous prices.

Jesus does not get angry often. He does so on this occasion because there is fraud and corruption here in the very house of God itself and if that is not bad enough, it is being carried out by the priests of God.

Anger is one of the passions. It is neither good nor bad. In fact it is a gift of God. How he made us. It is what we do with it that makes it something good or bad.

So many people today have anger management problems. Their anger is born out of sinful impatience or frustration at not getting their own way. Their anger is a destructive thing. It is coming from a bad place and it is being placed on others without good reason.

Jesus's anger today is not like that. It is called righteous anger. It is well placed. It comes from a place in him which wants honesty and the dignity of every human person to be acknowledged and respected. His anger today is directed at those who are denying people these fundamental human rights.

There is so much anger in our world today that is so destructive. What we need is righteous anger. We need to see people who are shocked and appalled and who will speak out at the injustices of our society. Look at what is going on in Ghouta, Damascus at the moment. In South Sudan. In DCR the Congo.

Nearer home, We have the indifference of people to the human suffering of refugees. Most of these are good people who have done nothing wrong except to arrive in this country and other European countries looking for sanctuary and help when they were saw their parents of other family members murdered before their eyes and so, had to flee their own country to escape death. And what do they get when they come here? Indifference or even hate.

Let me give you another example much nearer home that makes me angry.

Before I went on my sabbatical we had a young man living in our house for six months. I did not tell you about him because I did not want people being curious and making him feel like a feature to be talked about. The refugee.

His application for asylum here was turned down by the home office. He was not deported. But the Home office told him he must not work and he would not get any benefits.

How was he to eat? How was he to pay rent? He slept on buses every night, spent the days in libraries and public buildings and begged for food just to survive. In those circumstances many turn to stealing what they need to survive. Others sell themselves for sex. He did not do either.

No humane government should put them in this situation. But our does.

Eventually the JRS the Jesuit Refugee Service asked me to take him for three months which then became six months and after that he was moved to another religious house. He is still being moved from pillar to post. He cannot go back home because he fears for his life.

Many of the non-Europeans you see begging on the street are in his position.

It makes me so angry because what the government by its policy has done is create a new underclass, a new layer of poverty, from which there is no escape, for these people, as long as they are not permitted to work.

There are many such examples of indifference and downright cruelty in our society. And it needs people like you and me to wake up, be angry and speak out about it.

If through my self-indulgent anger I have ever hurt or upset anyone. I sincerely apologise. I never wish to feel or express anger like that and when I have done so it has been wrong.

But I pray I will always feel anger at the unjust treatment of others or where there is unfairness. And I hope you will too.


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