Jesus, anger, and joy


Last night’s election results left me finding it difficult to read the words of Psalm 100 which are the Invitatory Prayer for the Divine Office: “Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth, serve the Lord with gladness.” Recognizing that all my readers may not share my political views, I’m deeply disappointed that the president elect is a man who lacks respect for women, for immigrants and racial minorities, who has no agenda to care for issues that affect the poor or marginalized, and who seems to speak flippantly about war, even nuclear war. However, I am thankful for the Gospel reading of the day, which features Jesus turning over the tables in the temple. In the Gospel account, Jesus expresses anger over the lack of respect for the divine and the replacement of divine values with commercial and petty values. It’s worth praying over how properly directed anger and activism can be a legitimate reaction to witnessing injustice, with proper discernment and the time it requires to discern well.

I’m also struck by the fact that Jesus notes his own suffering and death, the destruction of that temple at the end of the passage. He himself is a victim of the social injustice that he sees around him. God knows and participates in the world’s evil, not by preventing it but by respecting human freedom. I think the joy that we can praise in Psalm 100 is not a joy that thinks all is right in the world because God is in control of outcomes, but rather a joy that God is always inviting and creatively encouraging us to choose what is good, no matter what evil exists and has come beforehand. It’s a constant trust and desire for us to act for the good, in freedom, that God encourages. That’s where the joy has to be: in God’s goodness, when our own seems far away. I’m not feeling especially joyful but will meditate more on the goodness of the Lord and what resources that goodness can be for both proper anger and hope for a better tomorrow.

 

 

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