A Cross In Life Is Correcting The Lies Of The World And The Faults Of Each Other
By Michael H. Brown
You know what I mean. You have gone through it. Odds are, you are still going through it: someone somewhere in your life -- a relative, a neighbor, a co-worker, perhaps even a fellow worshipper -- is the source of constant aggravation.
Call it "fiery darts": There is just something so galling about it! All of us have people who have attacked us unfairly and sometimes viciously out of their own pride or misconceptions or demons.
It makes us angry! Yet here is the lesson this day: All it takes to overcome anger -- which is a snake -- is to step back from it.
Fill the space with Christ and He'll quench the dart from the enemy.
When we react in the wrong way to an insult, when we "counter-punch" in like fashion, when we retaliate through anger, the snake has his way. Scripture tells us as much when it says (in Ephesians 4:26-27), "Be ye angry and sin not; let not the sun go down on your wrath; neither give place to the devil."
What it means is that to feel anger is not a sin; what is a sin is to handle it in the wrong way.
It's natural to get angry when evil is done! But when we react wrongfully, we just enhance the venom. We add barbs to the stinger. Fighting fire with fire only doubles the heat. Don't let evil engage you!
Yet we live at a time when this is rampant. Everyone is being harsh with one another. We live in a "culture of criticality." Or we are just dealt with unfairly. I remember one time several years ago when a woman sponsoring an event literally fabricated -- not exaggerated, but fabricated -- words that she then attributed to me, destroying a friendship.
It was painful and the devil was clearly at work but it would have been even more painful had I attacked her back, in like fashion. As it was, I was wrong for even letting it bother me.
Angry? Yes. But anger works to the right way only when it leads to correction. It's what we do with our anger. I should have contacted her bishop.
If you see something wrong, step back from it, disengage your emotions, pray about how to approach it, and then seek, with love, to correct it.
This is a cross we are all called to carry. We are called not to criticize or gossip, but to correct with love. That removes the sting. Is it difficult? Sometimes it seems impossible! But we are called to do it and we are called to do it at times when we don't want to -- when we would rather fight fire with fire or simply be silent. For the other extreme is letting everything go by us without doing anything about it.
Christians have a duty to "oppose evil with good, lies with the truth, and hatred with love," Pope Benedict XVI said in his Ash Wednesday homily.
But it is in the way we do it -- and we react in the wrong way when we let pride speak for us.
When something is really irksome, ask the Holy Spirit what part of your own pride it may be attaching itself to. You'll solve the irritation!
Look at Jesus. It's strange this day how so many have made Jesus into something that strays so far from Scripture. In the modern Church, there are many who portray Him as someone Who tolerated anything. They portray Him as so loving that nothing mattered. And nothing could be farther from the truth.
Look back at Scripture and notice how many times Jesus was admonishing!
But also see the way His admonishment -- however firm -- was done with love.
That's the difference between criticism and correction.
Negativity drains energy while the power of love (and humbleness) sends correction.
How powerful that is!
Correction is seeking to make something good. It is responding to anger in the correct way. It is using love to "attack" a negative situation.
The key is love. Love is a shield against evil and allows us to say something without offending. If we love, we correct.
Said with charity, our voices can affect the world. And our love keep the snakes away (see St. Patrick).
When we do not shine light, there is dark. It's a Lenten message because the good thing we do when we get angry -- if we are angry for the right reason -- is offer it up and seek to correct the source of our anger.
It is the path behind Jesus. We are called to resist evil. We are called to make our families and communities better situations. When we see a problem and don't say anything, we become part of it. Is there a pornographic shop opening in your town? Protest it. Is the library allowing unsavory people to speak there? Go to your local representatives. Speak up. Wear always the "ashes" of the Cross.
But look at Christ. He did not cast stones. He did not criticize. He was not negative. He was corrective. He came into the world to defeat darkness, and the end result -- despite the greatest insult known to man -- was Resurrection.
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