February 15, 2012 - Wednesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

St. James tells us to be quick to hear and slow to speak. This is very good advice. When someone else speaks, listening is an act of great humility. To listen to someone else is the best way to tell them that they are important, important enough to listen to. But we do not only listen for the sake of the other person, for their feelings or so that they will think well of us. If we did that, we would be hypocrites. We listen because we genuinely believe that we do not know everything. It is not possible to be a Christian without humility. “If anyone thinks that they are religious but does not bridle their tongue, they deceive their heart: their religion is vanity.”

St. James also tells us to be slow to anger. The relationship between the anger and Christianity is not easy to parse. On the one hand, Jesus says things like turn the other cheek. On the other hand, Jesus was angry and made a whip and cast all the money changers out of the Temple. So there must be such a thing as righteous anger. But St. James's reason why we should be slow to anger is that anger does not accomplish the righteousness of God, and that is correct. Anger does not accomplish anything. Anger is about stopping something. Sometimes it is necessary to stop evil, but what does that accomplish if we never start doing good?

There is a lot of evil in this world. No matter where we look, we are likely to find someone doing something wrong. It is too easy to just be angry. There will never be a shortage of reasons to be angry. So what if, instead of getting angry, we decide to do something positive. Anger does not accomplish the righteousness of God, so we should work to accomplish the righteousness of God.

The world needs changing. If we commit ourselves to doing good in this world, we can change the world. There are so many things we cannot control. Rather than becoming angry at our weakness, we should accomplish whatever we can. I cannot stop selfishness, but I can stop being selfish. I cannot force the government to take care of the poor, but I can take care of the poor. I cannot force people to follow the true morality, but I can, to the best of my ability, assisted by God's grace, be moral.