Today's Lectionary Text
One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and saw their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsfolk. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, he saw two Hebrews fighting; and he said to the one who was in the wrong, “Why do you strike your fellow Hebrew?” He answered, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses.
But Moses fled from Pharaoh. He settled in the land of Midian, and sat down by a well.
Anger has two facets, positive and negative. Anger is an emotion entrenched within humanity, generally because of something untoward that happens to us. Elisabeth Kubler Ross’ stages of grief illuminates anger as the second stage in grieving a loss. In one of my previous lives when I worked a counselor, I encountered a young woman who I will call Sheila. At the age of 8, Sheila suddenly lost her mother Miriam from a seizure. Sheila could not believe this and was devastated. Following the death of her mother, her aunt took Sheila and her little sister in. In thinking about writing on the topic of anger, Sheila came to mind. The way in which anger affected Sheila stood out to me in a way that emphasizes that anger must be dealt with otherwise it can be very destructive not on to the one who carries the anger, but to those around him or her. Sheila had mourned her mother in silence and never displayed her emotions to her aunt or those around her.
The anger of losing her mother enveloped Sheila’s soul and life. She could not comprehend why God would take her mother. Where is God in this world of grief? Why is God silent when I suffer at the hands of my evil aunty? Sheila was so consumed by this anger that she hated everybody. She ended up needing interventional therapy to overcome her anger. This was the time I encountered her, helping, and supporting her through managing her grief of long standing. Her anger was deeply rooted in not having dealt with her mother’s the death. It took time and many sessions to get to the root cause of this emotion. Lesson from Sheila’s hidden anger was that when one is passive or too aggressive, it backfires strongly. We worked through identifying her triggers and outlined steps to help and support in dealing with her prolonged grief.
Indeed, many stories could be told concerning anger. The story in our scriptural context highlights Moses’ anger to his opponent, Egyptian slave master. Moses had encountered many life challenges which were endless and unbearable. The enslavement of the Hebrew people was a thorn in the flesh even though he lived a palace life. Imagine Moses told about the life he lived as a baby, hidden in the river Nile for three months, the adoption he experienced of enjoying luxuries in the palace while his Hebrew people suffered the pain of slavery.
Upsurge of Moses hidden anger is portrayed in the text. 11One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Moses, a Hebrew by blood, could not watch the abuse levied on his own people through slavery. He murdered the Egyptian abuser to protect his own native brother.
Well, honestly Moses committed a murder because of the hidden anger. He could not hold back his emotions and acted aggressively and ruthlessly. Can you imagine the courage he had to kill the Egyptian and buried the body in the sand right away? Addition ally, his fleeing to Midian when identified as a murderer. One would agree that this was the darkest side of prophet Moses’ life. These are the consequences of anger. Anger can be very destructive and consumes the one who carries it.
The scriptures speak to us too in many ways. We have our Moses moments where we cogently express our emotions. We have tangible negative emotions in our speech, writings, teachings, and even preaching. Hidden anger is very destructive and destroys the soul.
Precisely, there is need to manage our anger. We have various backgrounds and rooted stories which cause hidden anger. I am reminded about Jesus’ anger in the temple courts. 12And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:12)
For the longest time in his ministry, Jesus saw the filthiness, selling of doves, money exchanging happening in the temple. Jesus’ anger was vented during Holy Week when he whipped the money changers, turned the tables upside down. One would regard this as “Jesus’ righteous anger.” What would we then call Moses’ hidden anger? Well, I would call it “justified anger. “Truth told, anger has its facets and must be managed well. We must be careful of the hidden anger!
-Rev. Ever Mudambanuki
United Church of Bennington
Solomon Yoked Parish
Prayer for Reflection
O God, we confess strongly about our negative emotions inhabited within our hearts. Teach us to be angry and not sin. Renew our hearts and minds to be manage anger and impart the virtue of self control in us. Amen
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