Phones were invented for telecommunication. It means that we can communicate with each other over a distance using the phone.
But nowadays, the phone, or specifically the mobile phone, is used not so much for telecommunication, but for messaging. It seems that messaging has become the norm of communication.
And with messaging, it’s not just about words but also with this thing called emoji. Emoji is a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or an emotion in electronic communication.
And emoji has a whole range from smileys to surprised to sadness.
So instead of using words we can use an emoji to express an emotion.
One unmistakable emoji that we may have used before is that of anger, and the image or icon that is used to express anger is usually reddish and has an unpleasant expression.
If we had used that anger emoji before and used it quite often, then it may mean that we have anger management issues, or maybe we are playing too much of that “Angry Birds” game.
Whatever it is, anger is one of the most common emotions that we have in our lives.
Anger is a feeling that makes the mouth work faster than the mind, and when we speak when we are angry, then we will make a speech that we will eventually regret, and that others won’t forget.
Yes, anger teaches us many lessons only if we are willing to learn from it.
In the gospel, Jesus gave His disciples a lesson on anger management.
They came to a Samaritan town, and the people would not welcome Him, and seeing this, the disciples James and John said, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” But He turned and rebuked them.
The fact is that anger doesn’t solve anything. It builds nothing but it can destroy everything.
And holding on to the fire of anger is like holding burning coals with the intent of throwing it at someone else; but we are the ones getting burned.
And that was why Jesus rebuked them. He wanted to free them from that anger so that it won’t destroy them.
And as the 2nd reading puts it: When Christ freed us, He meant us to remain free, and not to submit again to the yoke of slavery, which is the slavery of self-indulgence.
When we give in to self-indulgence, we give in to our anger and it destroys and burns up our love for others.
There is a story that a long time ago in China, a girl named Li-Li got married and went to live with her husband and mother-in-law.
In a very short time, Li-Li found that she couldn’t get along with her mother-in-law at all. Their personalities were very different, and Li-Li was angered by many of her mother-in-law’s habits. In addition, she criticized Li-Li constantly.
Days passed, and weeks passed. Li-Li and her mother-in-law never stopped arguing and fighting. But what made the situation even worse was that, according to ancient Chinese tradition, Li-Li had to bow to her mother-in-law and obey her every wish. All the anger and unhappiness in the house was causing the poor husband great distress.
Finally, Li-Li could not stand her mother-in-law’s bad temper and dictatorship any longer, and she decided to do something about it.
Li-Li went to see her father’s good friend, Mr. Huang, who sold herbs. She told him the situation and asked if he would give her some poison so that she could solve the problem once and for all.
Mr. Huang thought for a while, and finally said, “Li-Li, I will help you solve your problem, but you must listen to me and obey what I tell you.”
Li-Li said, “Yes, Mr. Huang, I will do whatever you tell me to do.” Mr. Huang went into the back room, and returned in a few minutes with a package of herbs.
He told Li-Li, “You can’t use a quick-acting poison to get rid of your mother-in-law, because that would cause people to become suspicious. Therefore, I am giving you a number of herbs that will slowly build up poison in her body. Every other day prepare some delicious meal and put a little of these herbs in her serving. Now, in order to make sure that nobody suspects you when she dies, you must be very careful to act very friendly towards her. Don’t argue with her, obey her every wish, and treat her like a queen.”
Li-Li was so happy. She thanked Mr. Huang and hurried home to start her plot of poisoning her mother-in-law.
Weeks went by, months went by, and every other day, Li-Li served the specially treated food to her mother-in-law. She remembered what Mr. Huang had said about avoiding suspicion, so she controlled her temper, obeyed her mother-in-law, and treated her like her own mother. After six months had passed, the whole household had changed.
Li-Li had practiced controlling her temper so much that she found that she almost never got mad or upset. She hadn’t had an argument in six months with her mother-in-law, who now seemed much kinder and easier to get along with.
The mother-in-law’s attitude toward Li-Li changed, and she began to love Li-Li like her own daughter. She kept telling friends and relatives that Li-Li was the best daughter-in-law one could ever find. Li-Li and her mother-in-law were now treating each other like a real mother and daughter.
One day, Li-Li came to see Mr. Huang and asked for his help again. She said, “Mr. Huang, please help me to stop the poison from killing my mother-in-law! She’s changed into such a nice woman, and I love her like my own mother. I do not want her to die because of the poison I gave her.”
Mr. Huang smiled and nodded his head. “Li-Li, there’s nothing to worry about. The herbs I gave you were not poison, but vitamins to improve her health. The only poison was in your mind and your attitude toward her, but that has been all washed away by the love which you gave to her.”
Indeed, the 2nd reading tells us: Serve one another in works of love, since the whole Law is summarised in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself.
When we are guided by the Spirit of love, then we will not be in danger of yielding to self-indulgence and to anger.
Then we will truly be free to follow Jesus and the emotions that will be on our faces will be peace and joy.