So a couple weeks ago, I got really angry at the end of mass — and justifiably so! Because when I looked up while distributing Holy Communion, what I saw was very frustrating, embarrassing and heart-breaking for me… I saw SO MANY PEOPLE streaming out of the church during the distribution of Holy Communion. Right after receiving our Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist, folks were walking straight out of the building…!

I was so upset by this sight, in fact, that I felt compelled to share my displeasure and disapproval out loud before the final blessing. The only problem was that by that point — I was just preaching to the choir! 

The people I really wanted to share this with were already long gone!

So… in an effort to make sure nobody here gets cheated out of my righteous indignation, I just want to say very clearly:

It’s wrong to leave church early.

I get it. There are sometimes unique or extenuating circumstances beyond your control…

But bottom line: 

If it is your habit to peace out right after you receive communion — I encourage you… out of love… to please stop doing so.

Stay and pray, instead

Hang out with Jesus.

Rest in the fact that GOD Himself is now physically present in your body.

You are at that very moment a LIVING TABERNACLE…ENJOY IT…

Kneel down and thank Him for that incredible gift.

Receive the final blessing.

Don’t rush off!

Where else do you want to be?

What else better is going on?

Because here’s the deal guys — if we can’t WAIT to get out of church… then we might find that we don’t really like staying in Heaven, which is literally FOREVER…

Yea! — Let that sink in!

FOREVER is much longer than however long it takes to get out of the St. Bede parking lot…

Ok. I’m done.

Tirade over…

Consider that Fr. Anthony’s “cleansing of the temple!” 

…At least I didn’t make a whip out of cords!!!

But this brings up a good topic of meditation for our Gospel this weekend:

Is anger always a sin?

The answer, of course, is no.

Now, if we’re honest, 99% of the time when we get angry, it is not righteous anger. Most of the time, our anger is at least venially sinful… and sometimes it can escalate into one of the Seven Deadly Sins which we call “wrath.”

We all probably know what sinful anger looks and feels like  — I know I do! I’m 50% Italian and 50% Scotch Irish… So my blood boils fairly easily!

…We fly off the handle. We say things we shouldn’t. We take it out on family members or friends. We scream at the kids. We turn to other pleasures for distraction. In our selfishness, we refuse to listen, we withdraw, we give the cold shoulder… we vent and pout and stomp and let the whole world know how we’re feeling… When that happens, we really should apologize and go to confession.

But Jesus is God. As St. Paul put it in our second reading: “Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

He never sinned. Not once. Not ever. He never overdid it. He never lost control. He never did or said anything uncharitable.

And yet in our Gospel this weekend, Jesus obviously got angry. 

In fact, He was absolutely FURIOUS!

So, why was this anger NOT sinful?

Well, let’s consult St. Thomas Aquinas, who teaches us this: “If one is angry in accordance with right reason, one’s anger is deserving of praise.” 


So… if you’re angry — in accordance with RIGHT reason… which is to say, angry at the right thing, in the right way, at the right time — then not only is your anger NOT sinful, it’s actually deserving praise!

St. John Chrysostom goes so far as to say this: “He sins who does NOT become angry when he has a cause.”

So Jesus’ anger was entirely justified. In fact, it is to be PRAISED.

Jesus was outraged by the way the animal sellers and the money changers were manipulating and extorting the pilgrims who came to Jerusalem in order to worship God and offer sacrifice — the way they were forcing people to pay exorbitant amounts for doves and sheep…

Remember the context for this event — The cleansing of the Temple happened around the time of the Passover!

What was the Passover but God delivering His Chosen people out of slavery in Egypt??? It was only shortly after the Passover that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, which we heard in our first reading this weekend: The Commandments were not meant to restrict… They were meant to help the recently liberated People of God continue to walk in their newfound freedom — that is — in holiness!

And yet when Jesus comes into the Temple during this holy time of Passover, he discovers slavery! Slavery to greed… slavery to idolatry… slavery to sin!!!! 

And “zeal for His house consumed Him!” — So, He flipped tables. He spilled all their money. He drove them all out with a whip… He put it foot down and said: “This ends NOW.”

So yea… it is true that sometimes… our anger is justifiable!

Jesus did get angry, yet without sinning.

But here I want to add a word of caution.

Because I think we could very easily use this fact as an excuse to then vent our fury…

Surely there’s a lot to be angry about — plenty of evil to be upset over, as there always has been in this fallen world! But I think we are especially tempted today to give ourselves a free pass on outrage. We justify it so easily… We make light of it and even celebrate it.

Social media is filled with harsh rhetoric, cruel jokes, angry outbursts, more and more campaigns for angry virtue signaling. This is how so many agendas and ideologies get pushed forward today… All the politicians, activists, and media outlets understand full well that if they can just get people angry enough…if they can just stir up enough rage… then they can have more power over us!

Listen again to these convicting words of Sacred Scripture: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”

My friends…Christians need to be different! 

We need to express our anger differently!

So how do we stay holy, even when we feel angry? Well… here are 3 helpful tactics:

  1. Talk to God about it: Don’t just FEEL anger and let it dictate your actions mindlessly… Take a step back. Tell the Lord exactly what you are experiencing — “God, I’m feeling really angry right now.” That is an amazing prayer in itself, and if you press in and really hash it out with the Lord, it will be so fruitful for you. Bring Jesus into the pain. Perhaps open up the book of the psalms — They are filled with raw emotion, including anger and frustration. Have a brutally honest conversation with the Lord, and then really listen for whatever His response may be.
  2. Pray for the person or situation you’re angry about. Ask the Lord: “What is Your Heart for this person? What do You think about this situation?” The absolute best thing you can do with your anger is to allow it to propel your prayer for others. Otherwise, all that sinful anger is going to spiritually kill you and the people around you. Remember that at the Sermon on the Mount, Christ taught: “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill” …quoting the Ten Commandments of course… “and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother [i.e. murderously wrathful with his brother] will be liable to judgment.” So make sure you pray for the people who make you most furious. Yes… even politicians.
  3. Do one simple thing to improve the situation concretely and immediately. Holy anger is always constructive. Jesus when he cleanses of the temple says at one point: “Destroy this temple, and I will rebuild it in 3 days!” The Temple he spoke of was his Body, and he was speaking of the Resurrection… From this, we can learn a practical lesson! Let your experience of anger become constructive in a tangible way. Experience the Resurrection! Don’t stay in the tomb of your wrath.  Rebuild something! Go do some yard work. Paint a picture. Read a book. Do some chores. Talk to a friend. Go for a walk or even a run to blow off some steam. BOOM… now your anger just made you go and exercise… now you’re healthier for it! Let anger fuel your zeal!

I’ll end with this:

When Jesus cleansed the Temple, His Heart was filled with love.

Love for His Heavenly Father, first and foremost. But also love for the scribes and Pharisees. For the moneychangers and animal sellers. For everyone… 

Go ahead and picture the person that makes you most angry… 

Jesus’ Heart is filled with love for precisely that.

So “be angry, and do not sin” as the Scriptures themselves say. Take care to let your anger not control you — but instead master your feelings of anger with the perfect, divine love that comes from Jesus Christ.