Third Sunday of Lent: John 2:13-25
Today’s Gospel reading may make us feel uneasy, especially those of us, who only want Jesus to be kind, loving, and gentle – all the time! But the gospel tells us that Jesus showed many emotions during His Ministry: disappointment, frustration, sadness, grief, and even anger. Jesus got angry with religious leaders and even with His disciples on different occasions. Today, we see Jesus shows this anger by overturning the tables, Jesus sending coins flying all over the temple; Jesus punished those, who dishonored the Lord’s house.
As our Gospel indicates, the point is not that we should never get angry or punish anybody at all costs, but that our anger and punishments should not be motivated to simply make us feel better or more powerful. Jesus’ expression of anger in the temple was motivated by Jesus’ love and for the respect for the house of God. Jesus’ anger was not out of hatred, but out of love. Jesus’ anger was not selfish, it was fueled by a strong concern for their spiritual life and lack of faith. Jesus teaches us that in our relationships with others, we are called to love them as God does. In that love, righteous anger is an expression of frustration at someone whose heart is hardened towards God. Jesus ‘high standard of righteous anger in this gospel challenges us to let go of our petty anger. In our relationship with others, we must constantly be focused on seeing others through God’s eyes.
So, our anger and punishments should always be motivated by love and should make the offender feel better and help to correct the mistake. We can all feel angry with somebody or something, but how we express our anger is the most important thing we have to consider. Our anger should not lead to others being put down or hurt nor should we act like we are better than others.
As I work as a hospital chaplain, I see the anger and frustrations of patients and their families, especially during crisis times and during times when they face unexpected deaths. We do not want to try to stop them from expressing their anger and other emotions, but we should just allow them to express these feelings. Sometimes, it is good to take our anger and grief to God, too. For as much as we know that God is with us in our pains and sorrows, it sometimes seems that the last place grief takes us is to God. Sometimes, we are afraid to express our anger to God. We cannot understand how a loving God allows such pains. We have lived our lives with an image of God that promises only good things to those who are faithful.
In the face of terrible loss, we may need to reexamine who God is. Sometimes, we can get so angry with God. A spiritual author wrote that “This anger is a form of prayer.” What a wonderful thing it is to hear this. God understands our anger and frustrations. Let us listen to the words of Pope Francis. The Pope said during one of his homilies, “God likes it when we get angry and tell God what we feel because God is our Father, and we can tell everything to our Father.” In the light of the gospel, let us ask ourselves, “What kind of anger do we feel? Is it based on jealousy or insecurity? Is it based on our righteousness and pride?” Our expressions of anger must be based on love and respect! Let us follow the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “I get angry at a principle, not a person.”