The Choice to Love & Live Differently

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time | September 13, 2020

See today’s readings here. Video recordings of the Sunday evening Mass, where Fr. Brian regularly preaches, are available on Facebook at Delaware Koinonia. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found hereSalesian Sermons

I was not what one would call an angry child.

I have very few memories of me yelling at my parents.

I recall many more moments of me crying on a couch talking to my mom till 3 AM to be honest.  

Outside of my brothers, I’ve never been in a fight.  Never punched another person. Never shoved someone into a locker or against a wall.  Never threatened someone to stay away from me.

I never in a rage tore my room apart or punched a wall or broke something.

I was much softer then.  Much more vulnerable.

I trusted more easily.  Loved more innocently.

I believed people.  And assumed the best intentions.

I cried often.  Forgave quickly.  And did a lot of talking.

But somehow over the decades, I realize that I have slowly changed.

My anger has imperceptibly grown, year by year.  My heart has gotten a little tougher.  A little less pliable.

I cry less.  And I seethe more.

I’ve built a thicker mask.  It is a well-crafted mask of professionalism and stoicism that shields the broken pieces from the world.

And it is my rising anger that helps keep that mask fixed firmly in place.

For when I am angry at the world, then I don’t have to face my anxiety and fear about that same world.

I become morally superior.  For my righteous anger is always justified in my own mind.

And little by little, I find myself poisoned towards my neighbor.

Judging their choices

Judging their politics

Judging their ignorance.  Their prejudice.  Their small mindedness

Judging their own anger.  And rage.

All the while, excusing my own.

For when I am angry at God, then I don’t have to face my own doubts and pain and sense of loss.

The rage shields my heart from bearing the full weight of my grief.  My pain.

And let’s be real.  I’m not alone.

We as a nation seem to be drowning in anger.

Scan through your social media and you’ll see video after video of adults screaming in the faces of one another.  

Listen to our conversations and the rage we fling at one another like missiles.

Look at the road rage incidents.  The assaults of grocery clerks over wearing a mask.

Gaze at our young teenage men cradling broken hands from when they punched the wall or bed frame or concrete pillars.  

Read the news stories.  The teen shot dead over a social media post.  The spouse murdered by her husband in a jealous rage.  The mass shooting triggered by a young man angry at the world and everyone in it.

Our anger seems safer.  Smarter.  More logical.

Even as it is literally killing us.

And suddenly the words of the Book of Sirach ring out.

Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord?

And I am faced with one of the most difficult questions that each of us on this journey of discipleship must grapple with.

Am I willing to let go of the anger and let God begin to heal all that my anger protects me from?

My fear.  For the lives of every one of these young people that I love.

My anxiety about this nation.  About its future.  About all of the vulnerable people whose lives hang in the balance.

My pain and grief that slowly compounds with each funeral of a former student.

Are we willing to surrender our anger, as members of this faith community?  To be the ones who live differently.

Who speak words of life, not death.

Who forgive.  And forgive.  And forgive.  

Who seek to understand.  To reconcile.  To restore and rebuild.

Who become vulnerable.  Who allow their fears and anxieties and wounds to be seen.

Who embrace rather than strike.  Who weep rather than rage.  Who choose to feel rather than shielding our hearts in a cage of fiery stone.

Who love.  Whole-heartedly and recklessly.  

The choice is yours my friends.

As for me, I choose love.  For the weight of my anger and hate is a cross too heavy for my heart to bear.

May God be Praised.

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