When We Hate.

It’s scary sometimes how deeply we can feel anger or resentment toward someone or some situation. I’m not talking about being “annoyed” or “frustrated”, something you wish were different but “hey, we’ll deal with it.”

No this goes deeper. It surprises us with how hot it gets us; our reactions can be so strong that we say or do something that has devastating effects, sometimes for years.

Try this one out – – did this ever happen in your family? It did mine. I was a teenager (I’m guessing 13 or 14 yrs. old). I can’t even remember the issue now (some minor “no” to something I wanted to do); but I remember the flash of intense anger I felt and the words I spoke to my

“I hate you!” I said. “I wish I had a different mother!” (I’m feeling the shame of those words as I type this). My mother of course, being the adult and knowing her son could be a spiteful boy, walked away from this awful moment (perhaps to cry).

I look back on this incident 50 yrs. ago and wonder how my parents didn’t put me up for sale! How can anger be so strong? How does it completely overwhelm our reason and better instincts? I don’t know. It just does. It may go back millennia to the fury we needed to survive in the hostile environment of the animal wilderness.

What I do know is . . . it is NOT God’s will that we act that way. For “when someone strikes you on the cheek be prepared to turn the other one to him as well.” Mt. 5:39

This is exactly what my mother did. And in doing this selfless act of parenting she saved her son. Years later I would recall that moment to her and how her sad but silent walking away showed how much she loved me.

I tell this story because I know some families who have allowed words (thoughtlessly spoken) to become a giant chasm between parent and child or brothers or sisters. For some it has been years since family members have spoken to each other. As I say, it’s frightening how one moment of heated exchange can cost a lifelong friendship or worse, a brother or sister or parent.

This same toxic anger is afflicting our political conversation. Both sides are infected, Democrats and Republicans. Each sees the opposing side as not just wrong or “misguided”, but they are seen rather as the enemy whose heart is wicked and whose intentions are cruel.

So long as we see our opponents as lacking character or moral goodness there is little hope we can work to solve our common problems.

New effort must be constantly put forth to repair or renewtattered relationships – – – no matter how many times it takes. This is hard work and requires a basic trust in our
neighbor’s goodness.

Where do we get the will to start again with that “stupid Democrat” or “blind Republican” or “foul mouthed child”? It comes in knowing that, despite present appearances (!), this is a Child of God. Christ shed his blood for them and for me.

So as scripture tells us, we now have peace through the blood of Christ. “With his own body (Christ) broke down the wall that kept them enemies.” Eph. 2:14. In other words he died for us all.

If he refuses no one his redeeming love, can we? Lord help us to turn the other cheek. It is your beloved child who strikes us.

God bless your 5th week in the Lenten desert.

Fr. Tim