Homily for Thursday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time Year A
Theme: The Holy Anger.
By: Fr. Evaristus Abu
Homily for Thursday November 21 2019
_(Thursday 21st November 2019. Bible Study: 1 Maccabees 2:15-29, Psalm 50 and Luke 19:41-44)_
_“When he had finished speaking these words, a Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice upon the altar in Modein, according to the king’s command. When Mattathias saw it, he burned with zeal and his heart was stirred. He gave vent to righteous anger; he ran and killed him upon the altar.” *(1 Macc. 2:23-25)*_
There is such a thing as holy anger. It is the strong feeling of dislike and aversion for something that is entirely sinful and bad. Anger in itself is not sinful when properly channelled. For instance, in John 2:13-15 we read: “Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.” Sometimes, there is just no need to be diplomatic about certain issues.
Perhaps, Jesus might have tried to persuade them but in this situation, the best sermon was action! This incidence is one that convinces me beyond every doubt that Jesus was completely human and completely God. Jesus was angry. (Even today’s Gospel passage tells us that Jesus cried). Nevertheless, even in his anger, Jesus never committed sin. Anger is actually very good when it is directed at something intrinsically evil. We need to be angry enough at the devil to avoid even negotiating with him. We need to be angry at our sinfulness and bad habits so that we can summon enough courage to repent.
In today’s first reading, officers from the evil king Antiochus Ephiphes arrived at the city of Modein to enforce apostasy against the Jewish religion. After they had gathered the city, they requested that Mattathias, being a leader in the city be the first to perform the sacrifice to idols. Mattathias initially tried to be diplomatic, he tried to speak to them calmly but while he was still speaking, a Jew came forward to offer the sacrifice.
It was at this point that Mattathias knew this was not a talk-talk issue. He burned with zeal (the same word used in John 2:17 with reference to Jesus for cleansing the Temple) and was moved by a fit of righteous anger. He ran and killed the Jew instantly. He also killed the king’s officer and tore down the pagan altar. The death of this Jew fulfils what Jesus would say: “if you try to save your life, you will lose it but if you lose your life for the sake of God, you will keep it for eternity.” In a panic, he went to offer the sacrifice thinking that would put him in good terms with King Antiochus not knowing that would be his last act on earth.
Mattathias knew he had crossed a line. There was no way he would reconcile with King Antiochus so instantly, he gathered an army of zealous men and women and they retreated into the wilderness for military training as well as spiritual preparation to fight the devil’s incarnate: Antiochus Epiphanes. You do not engage in a battle without first strategizing and backing yourself up with prayer.
In moments of temptation, you don’t negotiate with the devil, you don’t try to be diplomatic, you act instantly. One reason why we are stuck in our sins is that we are yet to summon enough hatred against the devil. Secondly, we engage the devil with bare hands, we don’t take out time to prepare, we barely retreat, we do not recollect. This is why after repenting over and over again, we still open our doors to the same sin again.
In today’s Gospel passage Jesus wept over Jerusalem. This cry of Jesus would materialize in the year AD 70 when the city would be brought down and not one stone in the Temple would be left standing. *Apart from anger against the devil, we should learn to weep over our sins because they deserve hell.*
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, fill me with zeal for truth, righteousness and holiness. Amen.
*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Thursday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: 1 Maccabees 2:15-29, Psalm 50 and Luke 19:41-44).*