There are many emotions that God has given us. One of them is anger. There is compassion, mercy, love, affection, sexuality, etc. All these emotions are gifts of God. All emotions are good.
Even sexuality is good. It is the greatest gift given by God. So also, is anger a gift of God. But how we use it, make it good or evil.
Many people struggle with anger. This is one area that I too have struggled with in my life. A lot of people want to know about how to deal with uncontrollable anger.
Today we are talking about the spirit of anger. Anger is something which comes suddenly. We don’t have any control over such sudden anger. When you get angry suddenly, with something or someone, how you deal with that anger results in good or evil.
Anger, by itself, is not a sin. Even anger is good if you use it properly. If you use anger positively, it is not a sin. But if you use your anger in a negative way, it is evil and is a sin.
Many people struggle with anger. You should never suppress your anger. You should always express your anger. Suppressed anger is dangerous. It will harm others and also harm your own health. So, you should express it in a positive way.
Suppressed anger will always produce something evil later. Either it will create some kind of deformity in your character or it will create sicknesses in you. So express your anger but in a constructive way. It will be fruitful.
Anger which is expressed negatively is liable for judgment. It is a sin, and you should confess it. People say they have uncontrollable anger. But there is no uncontrollable anger. As we said above anger is an emotion. All the emotions are controllable.
If there is no anger, then there will be no development. Anger is a gift of God. It is not under your control. But, how you deal with it makes it sinful or virtuous. If you deal with it in a proper way, it will become virtuous.
Some examples of anger where it is used positively:
E. g. 1) Mother Teresa was a good teacher. She used to teach children at the Loreto Convent. Once, when she was travelling, she saw many people lying on the road unattended, hungry, wounded, sick and dying. She was very angry with the society and the system.
She went to her Mother Superior and told her that we should do something to help these people. But Mother told her that it is not their Charism. Their Charism was teaching. So, it was not possible for them to do anything. It was not under their control.
Out of her anger she left the congregation and started helping and nursing these people. That’s how Mother Teresa started her own congregation ‘The Missionaries of Charity’ to help these people. Today it is one of the biggest congregations and has its presence in most of the countries in the world.
All this started with her anger against what was happening around her. Mother Teresa reacted positively. She diverted her anger emotion in a positive way to have a tremendous impact on the whole world.
E.g. 2) When we were small, me, my brother and other children, used to go to the neighbor’s house on Sundays to watch the movie on TV. We did not have a TV in our house those days. A lot of children used to gather there to watch the movie.
One day our neighbor told us that they have guests in their house so no TV, and they closed the door. Everyone was disappointed. We all went home sad and about to cry. When we came back my father asked “what happened?” and we told him about it.
My father got very angry when he saw his children sad and chased out by the neighbor. So, the next day somehow, he collected money and bought a new TV for his children. My father used his anger in a positive way. So, he didn’t harm his neighbor or himself. The result of the anger was a new TV.
E. g. 3) Once, when I was preaching the gospel, one of the candles lit on the altar had wax collected on top of the candle. One person came to take the candle but was handling it carelessly.
When I saw it, I knew that man would drop all the wax on the altar cloth and the cloth would get spoiled. But before I could say anything that man dropped all the wax on the altar. The altar cloth was all spoiled. I was very angry.
He got scared. He knew I would shout at him. He looked at me and I looked at him. Though I was angry, there were people watching me at that moment.
So my will commanded my emotions this – “Fr. Joseph if you shout at him now, everybody will come to know that you are an angry person and have no control over your emotions. Just now you finished a talk on forgiveness. So, how can you get angry? The altar cloth is already spoilt. Therefore, calm yourself down and be a good role model to all these people.”
So, I looked at the frightened person and smiled at him. He felt so comforted and happy. The people were also happy. Nobody was hurt. After the session, this man came to me and apologized for his carelessness. He also brought a new altar cloth.
By this way I became a good role model to that person and as well as for the people who were listening to the preaching. If I had been angry on that person there would have been many consequences:
The man would have been hurt and humiliated publicly, and would stop helping in the ministry and never come back.
The people who were listening to the preaching would have thought that Fr. is preaching about forgiveness and he cannot practice it. They would be scandalized.
Thirdly, I would regret my action throughout my life.
If my will is not ready to give the right command to my emotions, the impact will be terrible. Our will can control or command our emotions. Our will has got a control on our emotions. It commands and accordingly our emotions behave.
Therefore be very careful. Don’t ever say that I have uncontrollable anger. Every anger can be controlled provided your will is ready to control it; ready to command.
Sometimes our will is not ready to command. When we get angry, we choose people. We react accordingly. When it is your own person, you don’t get angry. You control your anger.
Suppose my best friend does something very bad. Then suddenly my will says ‘don’t hurt him, don’t break this relationship. He is your best friend.’ But if it is a stranger you don’t control your anger; you react negatively.
For e.g.: Once I kept some documents on my table and the next day that paper disappeared. I looked for it everywhere, but couldn’t find it. I got angry with my volunteers. I thought they might have taken it. But later I came to know that Fr. Anthony had taken the document. When I heard it was Fr. Anthony, my anger disappeared. My will commanded my emotion.
Most people who experience uncontrollable anger should know that anger runs in the family. Anger is hereditary and contagious. It comes from our family members to us. It may be from our parents, siblings or other relatives.
When we see people getting angry, we too get angry. Also, when we watch movies or TV and see people shouting and angry with each other, our expression changes. We too get angry. It is because, anger is contagious.
Once we display our anger, we instill it in others too. We share a portion of our sin with others. Therefore when we get angry, even if it is personal, we commit a social sin. It affects the family and the community.
You should remember how much you suffer when someone else gets angry. So also others suffer by your anger. Therefore, we should control our anger. You should never allow it to increase. The more it remains in you, the more you are liable for judgement.
Gospel of Matthew-5.22 says “But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, you fool, you will be liable to the hell of fire.”
The moment the anger rises inside, you have to control it and divert it. Express your anger constructively. Do not allow the anger to reside in you and control you. Not even for a second.
The more it remains inside you, you are accountable to God and liable for judgment. This anger will produce evil.
The second reaction to your anger is indirect insult. You will avoid, show-off, speak against or make fun of the person. Our reaction may be an indirect attack on the person. Because you are a Christian you will not show it as you will be liable to council and so attack indirectly.
The third reaction is direct attack; calling the person nicknames, abusing, insulting and using swearing words. By doing this the Lord says you will be liable to the hell of fire. In the third reaction, you will surely go to hell.
There are 3 ways people react to their anger 1) keeping anger inside 2) indirect attack and 3) direct attack. Once you reach the third step, then you are eligible to the hell of fire.
Therefore be very careful. If anybody is harboring anger against someone, be careful. It takes no time to reach from the first stage to the third stage. Even if you do not go the second or third stage, there will be other problems. If you are harboring anger against anybody, your sickness will never be healed.
We read in Sirach 28:2-3 – Forgive your neighbor the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray. Does anyone harbor anger against another, and expect healing from the Lord?
Once one man had came to the retreat with a big wound in his leg. He had tried many medicines, but it was not getting healed. He could not sleep with the pain. He had uncontrollable anger against his father.
He hated him and never used to talk to him. That was the reason for his unhealed wound. At the Retreat he came to know the reason. During the healing adoration, he asked for forgiveness and confessed his sins. Then his wound healed and also got good sleep. Anger blocks your healing.
If you have any anger against your brother or sister, you cannot expect any healing. Medicines will not work. Your body will reject medicines and treatments. Unforgiveness leads to production of some kind of hormone that rejects the medicines. Therefore, unforgiveness will create problems for you.
Remember, any type of unforgiveness will block any type of healing for you including cancer and such type of illnesses.
Sometimes the root of anger isfear. Some people think that if they get angry, they are safe. This is true even in the case of animals. When a small dog and a big dog come face to face, it is the small dog who barks first at the big dog. He is frightened and so barks continuously. It thinks it is safe by doing that.
This happens in our homes too. Many people hide behind anger. They try to show that they are powerful by getting angry. This is a way of escapism. They feel they are safe by getting angry.
In 1 John 4:18 we read – There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.
God will never destroy evil. God does not destroy Lucifer. Lucifer is a fallen angel; a creation of God. God might bind the devil and cast him in hell forever, but never destroy him. Also, God does not know fear. God does not have any enemies. HE is merciful and loving. In perfect love, you can cast out fear. If you want to overcome anger and unforgiveness, then do not waste your energy dealing with the anger. Instead start enjoying the presence of God and fill your heart with love.
If the love of God is in you, you will get rid of anger. Read the Bible, listen to the preaching, worship God and you will be able to forgive your enemies and overcome anger. Stay in contact with God and you will be away from evil.
One day a man came to me and told me that he wanted to forgive his wife. He said that she used to get angry with him always and make fun of him. She used to insult him in front of his children and always abuse him. So, he had decided to separate from her. When I told him not to do so, he told me that his wife should come to him and say sorry. She should realize her mistake and correct herself.
Then I told him maybe your wife is also thinking in the same way. Somebody has to take the initiative. I told him, even Jesus was insulted, beaten and abused but still he forgave everyone, even though nobody asked him for forgiveness. Therefore don’t wait for your wife but you should forgive her first.
How to overcome anger:
Remember the example of the candle wax above. If I had to shout at the man it would have become a sinful act and a scandal in front of so many people. He would have been very hurt. Maybe he would have stopped coming to the retreat centre and even to church.Since I controlled myself and behaved in a constructive way by smiling at him, the impact was very positive. The man and the people were all very happy and so was I. My reaction became virtuous.
In our busy schedule, we are unable to collect many virtues in heaven. Even priests are not liable for heaven by doing all their duties. They have to collect virtues in heaven. The more the virtues in heaven, we will be saved. Being busy all the time, it is difficult for me to collect virtues. Just because I am doing my duties everyday doesn’t qualify me to go to heaven. God will be happy with my work but it does not entitle me to go to heaven. For that, I have to make time to collect virtues in heaven.
God gives me many opportunities to collect virtues in heaven and anger is one of them. Only thing is that we have to deal with it positively and constructively.
Every occasion for anger is an occasion for a sin or virtue.
Romans 12:19 – Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. We need not take revenge. Our way of revenge will be negative. Leave it to God. God will do it. It is up to Him. He will do it in a positive and constructive way. God’s revenge will never destroy a person. It will convert the person.
Trying to avoid the person or keeping a distance from the person you are angry with, will not help. You will only be entering into an eternal unforgiveness. Even if you’ll are far away, you will still be having the enemy somewhere in the world.
The best way to destroy your enemy is by making him your best friend. This will destroy your enemy once and for all. It will eliminate the enemy. Once in a religious house, two priests were fighting with each other all the time. They told their provincial to transfer one of them because they could not stay in one place anymore.
Their provincial told them that by this, he would be removing the opportunity of reconciliation between them. Thus, their anger will remain forever. So, if they really want a transfer, then they would have to first forgive each other and reconcile. Only then he would transfer one of them.
At first both the priests were not happy with the provincial’s decision. They started working on reconciling with each other. After two months when their provincial asked them about the transfer, they said that they were happy with each other and they have become best of friends.
Another aspect of this is when the other person is an abusive one. In this case, you are not angry with the person anymore. You have already forgiven that person. But you are afraid of that person’s behavior. You are worried if you go back to that person, that person might hurt you again, abuse you again. That is the reason you want to stay away from that person. For e.g. If you have a thorn in your hand and someone presses it, you feel immense pain because you already have a wound in that hand.
Here there is no aspect of forgiveness because you have already forgiven the person. You are not angry with that person any more, but are frightened of being hurt again. Here it is the inner wound that needs to be healed. In such cases you need inner healing.
The anger should be expressed constructively.
I remember some time back when in Syria and Iraq, christians were persecuted and killed, I was really very angry. I didn’t know how to express my anger. I used to go about speaking against all these people. But this was not a constructive way to express my anger.
Once I heard one of our priest preaching. In that he expressed his anger against these persecutors in a constructive way. He announced 40 days of fasting for the conversion of these ISIS terrorists. By this these persecutors became weak. It was fruitful. When we get angry a tremendous power of energy is created in our body. We need to divert this energy constructively or else it will explode one day. In this way we will collect virtues in heaven and earn graces too.
Once after a talk on anger a man came to me and said “Father, I did exactly what you said. I was angry with my wife and I expressed it.” I asked him the consequences of his expression. He said that his wife divorced him.
This was not a constructive but a destructive expression of anger which resulted in separation. Therefore, you should express your anger only if it will be fruitful.
Jesus got angry in Jerusalem temple because he knew his anger was constructive and would bear fruit. It would help thousands of christians hereafter. Mark 3:4-5- Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
Jesus could have expressed his anger in a destructive way by making everyone there blind, or bringing death upon them. But he expressed it in a positive way by healing the blind.
Don’t get tired of doing good.
When I was in the seminary we were a total 30 seminarians. Out of the 30 seminarians 28 were good to me. But one of them used to irritate me. He used to insult and abuse me in front of everyone.
I couldn’t take it and went to the Superior and complained to him. But he asked me to go to him and say sorry and reconcile. The Superior’s explanation was that since I was harboring anger against him and distancing myself from him, I had to apologize.
I was not happy with the idea but I still went to him and said sorry because I wanted to become a good priest. When I apologized to him, he said “ok, I forgive you, but do not repeat it.” I was very irritated by this. This went on again and again and each time his superior told him to go and ask forgiveness. Every time, his behavior was the same. Then finally, I told my superior it was not possible for me to forgive him again and again.
He told me that Jesus said to forgive 70 times 7. He said, “the boy was not tired of doing evil to you then why are you getting tired of doing good to him.” He was faithful in doing evil but I was not faithful in doing good. He then quoted Galatians 6:9 – So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So, do not be tired of doing good. Most of us will do good only once or twice and then show our true colors. Many people think that by doing good you can never be successful.
Once a man told me that he had a very abusive neighbor. That neighbor would forgive him all the time. He later started coming in front of his house and started abusing him. He also began abusing his guests. Every time this man would forgive him.
Then one day while he was abusing him in front of his house, this man took a knife and went towards him. The abuser saw the knife and ran for his life. From that day onwards, he stopped abusing him.
He further told Fr. that it was his conclusion that only forgiving was not effective. Sometimes you had to react with the knife too. This is the impression that most of us have. He thought he was successful but in fact he had created an enemy for life. He had an enemy staying next door forever. That is not a Christian attitude. The Christian way is salvific.
Jesus forgave not just 70 times 7 but continued to forgive forever, until his last breadth. He forgave each and everyone till he breathed his last. As a result the whole world got converted. Our Christian teaching teaches us that we should not get tired of forgiving or doing good. So don’t give up doing good. We must forgive not just 70 times, but continue to do so. Just as Jesus did on the cross.
If out of 100 times you react negatively even once, than the 99 times of forgiveness will be wasted. Your 99 virtues will become useless. So, remember let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.