Loving Enemies, Handling Anger

16 June 2009. Tuesday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time
2 Cor 8, 1-9; Psalm 146; Matthew 5, 43-48

The command to love our enemies may pose as an impossibility. How many of us have been successful? There are, of course, success stories. But a majority have struggle with it, or to some dismiss the tenet completely. But Jesus clearly said that if we love our enemies, it will mark us from the rest of the world.

A quick explanation. In Greek, there are three words for love. Roughly, eros for those whom we are intimate with; Philia for those within the family and friends circle; Agape for the love we have for the general humanity. Agape is what Jesus used. It would be very difficult to love our enemies with an eros and philia kind of love. But, of course, it may be possible. Commonly though, it is more manageable to be able to at least give what is due to the dignity of the person we do not like; this is agape. If God sends the sun and the rain to both the just and the unjust, as the Gospel tell us today, then God loves all of us, including our enemies. If God loves all, then we have to strive to love them --- even if not of the same degree --- as God loves us all.

The first challenge in loving our enemies is handling our anger. Psychologists have it that our outbursts are not just about a present situation of hurt. Anger carries with it the past. Thus, we fly off the handle when we are triggered --- that means, there are situations that predispose us to be excessively angry. For example, when our managers critique our jobs, despite the effort we have given, we overreact. We believe that our work reflects our dignity. We take the criticism personally. Thus, evaluation periods have never been popular among employees.

But what we don’t know is that our attitude towards anger situations trace its history years ago: when our parents have not been generous with their affirmations, when we were bullied and insulted. We feel their love if our grades are better; and their wrath if our grades are not satisfying to merit attention. We are as good as the last awarded project.

We notice that our pet peeves are not the same with others. Some will not be affected by our anger situations; and we too will not be angered when they will be reacting. We should therefore identify these situations in order for us to be free from them. So that, aware of situations that anger us, we will be able to respond fairly well to them, not reacting to them.

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