A place for rage?

| Liz Kelly | June 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

iStock/sedmak

Over these past very disturbing few weeks, as protests, violence, looting, and upheaval have erupted throughout our country, taking lives, destroying businesses and eradicating a sense of security for too many, I find myself thinking about Jesus and anger. It has often passed through my mind, the one moment in Scripture when it seems Jesus actually experiences rage enough to take up violence: that moment in the temple, his Father’s house, when he overturned the money lender’s tables.

You will recall, this immediately follows his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He has just been met with waving palm fronds and choruses of hosannas. Matthew recounts what happened next this way:

“Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, ‘It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer”; but you are making it a den of robbers.’ (Then) the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them.”

One of my study Bibles comments on the use of violence by Jesus, noting he rooted out those who were stealing in order to create space for healing (I’m paraphrasing).

And furthermore, there is no evidence that he laid a hand on anyone, only the goods used for corrupt ends that were such a corrosive evil.

When you imagine the time of Christ and its wide variety of social ills — leper colonies, poverty, slavery, racial and sexual discrimination, warring factions and political corruption of every sort — it doesn’t sound all that different from our current culture. And when you remember that this same Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, and that blessed are the peacemakers, we must pay attention to how and when he expresses violence, and precisely to what degree. Is it possible to argue that this same Jesus who sanctified human fear as he sweat tears of blood in the Agony in the Garden, also sanctified a degree of indignation when he drove out the moneylenders? And if he did, what can this possibly mean for us as a Church, a people so concerned with combating the evils of the world?

We could ask it this way: Would Jesus kneel outside of abortion clinics praying the rosary, or would he set them on fire, burn them to the ground?

Maybe the more important question is: When we rage at injustice — and make no mistake, I agree there is wild injustice out there against which to rage — what is the result? After Jesus drove out the moneylenders, the very next thing he did was to heal the sick who came to him. Let’s be clear: Rage for Jesus had a holy purpose, to restore holiness and to bring about healing.

It’s easy to point a finger or shake an angry fist, and sometimes that’s justified. But it bears asking, do I vigilantly drive out the corruption from my own heart in order to create more space for holiness and healing, greater reverence for others, their very lives and livelihoods?

Father of all, we are in turmoil. But you have created us for order and harmony, to love and to be loved. Restore in me a proper sense of justice. Take the rage I feel against injustice and pour it into something worthy and good that will bring about more healing, greater sanctity and reverence for all you have created. Do not abandon this country to the darkness of hate and chaos, but save us, give us wisdom to know precisely what tables to overturn. Amen.

Kelly is the author of seven books, including the award-winning “Jesus Approaches” (2017) and the “Your Heart, His Home Prayer Companion” (2019). Visit her website at lizk.org and on Instagram at lizktoday.

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Category: Your Heart His Home