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March 8 | Matthew 21:18-22


 

DAILY READING



 

REFLECTION


From Cursed to Comforted

by Jennifer Jerrome


If you were a contestant on the $100,000 Pyramid ($10,000 back in the 70's & 80's) and were given the clues: serpent, ground, Canaan, and fig tree, what would you guess? If you said, “things that are cursed” you’d be right!


In the Bible, the word “curse” shows up 178 times, most in the Old Testament. Curses are usually associated with anger and frustration, so it’s not surprising that there are over 20 times more references to anger in the Old Testament than in the New. With Jesus came a shift to comfort and peace.


But…we cannot forget that Jesus was a man, a man who got hungry just like everyone else and in today’s reading may have even gotten “hangry.” According to Matthew’s gospel, just the day before, He overturned the tables in the temple in Jerusalem. Here we see Jesus’ frustration on display. The next morning when he went to get something to eat, the fruitless tree may have stirred up feelings that were still bubbling beneath the surface. And when reality didn’t live up to the expectations, Jesus exclaimed, “May you never bear fruit again!”


Immediately the tree withered, and when the disciples saw this, they were amazed. I wonder if Jesus was a little surprised himself? Likely not, but maybe it reminded the human Jesus of the powers of the Spirit that dwelled in him. And in true Jesus form, he turned the cursed fig tree into a teachable moment. He wanted the disciples to know that we all have the power to do great/impossible things if we have faith and do not doubt.


But guess what? We often have a lot of doubt. I’d argue that a healthy amount of doubt might be a good thing. Doubt can actually lead us closer to God. I know that seems to go against what Matthew is saying, but I believe doubt and uncertainty can lead to questioning which can lead to prayer which can lead to a strengthening of faith.


Anger is also a necessary emotion. Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest and writer on spirituality, says the following about anger in his book The Wisdom Pattern: Order, Disorder, Reorder


Even anger and rage are great teachers if we listen to them. They have so much power to reveal our deepest self to ourselves and to others, yet we consider them negatively. Yes, they are dangerous, making us reactive and defensive, but they often totally rearrange how we know—or if we know—reality at all.


Believe it or not, such emotions are ways of knowing. They have the capacity to blind us, but also the power to open us up and bring us to profound conversion, humility, and honesty.


PRAYER

Father God, thank you for the gifts of anger and uncertainty. Instead of letting them serve as a curse and overwhelm us, may we use them to draw closer to you, comforted by the fact if we embrace our faith, nothing is impossible. Amen.







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1 Comment


robin.lorms
Mar 08

Good morning, Jennifer.

Thank you for this commentary on anger and frustration. Your insights into the emotion of anger is well received as many times in my anger I have had to stop and investigate the source. Usually, it has either been pride or fear driven. So, yes I agree anger can be a road block to God's grace while, at the same time, a motivator to look deeply inside myself searching for the underlying cause of my anger.

In the prisons we have courses designed specifically for the incarcerated that deal with anger management. Most incarcerated men and women suffer from several anxiety disorders manifesting themselves in outbursts of anger or a festering of getting even one day. I…

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