Recognize God In Your Ordinary Moments - The Merciful Anger of Jesus

03-03-2024Pastoral Reflections©LPi — Colleen Jurkiewicz Dorman

Watch your fellow churchgoers today as the priest or deacon reads the story of Jesus raising hell (or perhaps he’s raising heaven?) in the temple square. Dollars to donuts, they’ll be squirming.

As Catholics, we have become very uncomfortable with Angry Jesus. He makes us cringe in the same way that the Old Testament God does when He calls Himself “jealous” and talks about punishment. That level of intensity makes us recoil. If it were present in a human relationship, it would be toxic and abusive, because in humanity, fierceness and love rarely coexist in a healthy way.

But what a tragedy it would be for us to mistake our relationship with God for our relationship with our spouse, our best friend, or even our human father. Because we cannot see clearly, we would mistake His zeal for anger and His law for diktat.

The strong and sure movement of a wave against a rocky cliff will, over time, erode its surface, just as an overabundance of raindrops will flood a city. We do not call the water callous and cruel. We still luxuriate in its coolness and refreshment. Its destructive powers don’t negate the life-giving properties of water. We do not demand that water apologize to us for being strong.

Fierce, uncompromising — but also, soft and merciful. How can God — and God’s law — be both, at the same time? How can Christ cast a whip at someone’s foot, overturn a table and scatter coins? How can the law of God be perfect, as the Psalm says, and refresh the soul — while demanding so much of it?

All I can say is, thank God for Angry Jesus. We need his fierceness and thank God it does not wane because it confuses us. Thank God his mercy does not decrease because we doubt it.

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” — 1 Corinthians 1:25