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TOWARDS FORGIVENESS AND FREEDOM

7th Sunday

We express anger in many different ways. Angry people have been known to kill their opponent. Others, while not killing their neighbor physically, instead malign them, killing them morally. Some people treat others with indifference. Others secretly pray for the death of their enemies.

Anger is a natural, valid human emotion. In response to anger, people normally yearn to get even, to take revenge. Jesus’ audience could surely identify with the law He mentioned: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. This is one of the oldest human laws. Its original intention was to impose justice – return what you have taken away. Another intention was fairness – take only what was taken, nothing more.

Still the law was insufficient to bring harmony among peoples. It did not remove the desire of men and women to retaliate when they are aggrieved. It did not resolve the root of conflicts or teach men and women the way to real peace.

As Christians, is it all right to get angry? Surely, the Lord does not want us to control our anger. As human beings, we need to release and express the negative emotions in our hearts. But we need to go beyond our anger. We need to go beyond seeking justice to which we are entitled.

Many people remain in a state of anger for a long time. They are fixated on their pain and spend many years planning their revenge. The result is sadness seen on the face and pain hidden in the heart. Are you living with this anger in your life today?

The Bible says: do not let the sun go down on your wrath. Do not extend your anger more than the time needed to express it. Instead express it, talk it over with the other person, correct if you must. Once released, move and be free again.

Another way to deal with anger and the desire for revenge is through forgiveness. Many of us are uncomfortable with forgiveness. It is certainly not easy. People think that to forgive is to show weakness and defeat. But the reverse is true: to forgive is to possess a bigger heart, a deeper understanding, a greater spirit. That is what Jesus illustrates as He says: turn the other cheek, walk the additional mile, give both your tunic and coat.

The Christian is a strong person, capable of giving more.

When confronted with injury, express your anger. And learn to slowly forgive the offense so that you too, can be free. Most of all, offer your experience to God. Do not carry your burden alone. Let Jesus heal you and your enemy. Jesus who touches hearts, heals the victims of pain and calls the offender to repentance.

Let us pray that the Lord will release us from our angers and free us to love again.