Readings: Galatians 5:18-25; Luke 11:42-46
Dante called St. Luke’s the “Gospel of mercy.” However, were I one of the Pharisees or Scribes in today’s Gospel, I probably wouldn’t register “mercy” as Jesus levelled with me.
It can be a relief to see Jesus express his anger, though that’s no justification for my own outbursts. What the words of the Gospel can’t tell me is how Jesus sounded in this interchange, which can make all the difference. Even without that, his anger sets a high standard that mine may never equal, that today’s public figures, so uncensored in their self-expression, certainly do not match.
For one, Jesus is not defensive. He’s not protecting his image or protesting his personal hurts. Then he sticks to the facts and not unfounded conclusions born of his insecurities: his statements are narrowly descriptive and not imaginatively elaborated. He’s speaking up not for himself but for the voiceless. Finally, what he says could awaken the conscience of those he criticizes: his anger is a call to their conversion. What he says is really for their own good.
I don’t think my anger lives up to any of that. I’ll try to curtail my toxic reactions, but it’s likely that I’ll lose my temper again. But I can always go back to this text from St. Luke’s Gospel to evaluate and correct what has just happened.