Anger is the noblest human emotion. Its nobility does not stem from its expression however, but from its proximity with reason. In fact, anger is only truly noble when it quickly and effectively corrects injustice – and injustice has more to do with what is due to others than to oneself. The anger of animals exhibits itself mostly through violent acts of self-preservation. Righteous anger exhibits itself through fervent but reasoned acts that result in the restoration of the dignity and freedom of others. The scriptures themselves do not clarify the subject of anger: on the one hand sometimes God is angry, on the other hand we are warned against being angry.
In today’s first reading we see David presented with the opportunity to kill King Saul. David almost seems to suffer from some kind of psychological wound: he was obviously seen as unimportant by his father Jesse who did not even bother to present him to Samuel. Now, though David has been threatened and hunted by Saul, he still seeks to win his affection and trust. We know from revelation that this isn’t just David’s striving for some kind of lost parental approval however. David turns the anger and resentment in his heart against his desire for revenge and kills the hostility. David’s faith in the the “chosen-ness” of Saul by the Lord gives him a supernatural capacity for forgiveness. So strong is this witness of filial devotion that even Saul’s heart is temporarily melted.
The Gospel presents us with the names of the Apostles, including in a special way those who received new names. The “sons of thunder,” are another example of the full conversion of righteous anger. James became the first Apostle to give his life for Jesus – no longer with a heart to destroy the unbelievers by fire, he offers his life for their conversion. The Apostle John’s youthful enthusiasm transformed by the Cross of Christ becomes simply words of exhortation to love in his pastoral letters.
May our lives too be transformed into irresistible witnesses of an all consuming Divine Love.