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Anger Management

– Friday of the 8th Week of Ordinary Time –

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. [Mk 11:11]

Today’s gospel reading begins curiously: “Then [Jesus] entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.” Why does Mark make mention of the seemingly inconsequential action – that Jesus went into the temple and ‘looked around at everything’? Was he a tourist?! What was it that he saw?

The answer emerges in subsequent verses.  We are told that the next day, Jesus entered the temple and began driving out the traders, upending their tables and chairs. Thus, what Jesus had seen the day before was the unseemly commercial activity which, presumably, was taking precedence over the worship of God. Yet this raises another question: If this profanation was so egregious – as Jesus’ actions seem to indicate – why did he wait until the day after his initial visit to respond?

Here, I suspect, we are being taught a lesson in righteous anger management. When Jesus made his initial visit, he was within his rights to have flipped over tables and chairs there and then. But he didn’t. Rather, he saw the offense but, instead of manifesting his anger immediately, he withdrew, slept on it, and gave considered thought to how he would act the following day. This may have been done as an example for us.  Jesus’ delay wasn’t because he, like us, was prone to going ‘too far’ in the heat of the moment (after all, he was incapable of sin). Rather, he seems to have been modelling a way in which we might ‘keep our heads’ while responding – in anger – to grievous injustices.

by Mark Makowiecki

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