Jeff Cook, author of Seven: The Deadly Sins and the Beatitudes , has offered some brief meditations for us to ponder during Lent this year.
During Lent, we will meditate together on the Seven Deadly Sins and use this list as an aid in confession as we prepare ourselves for Holy Week, Good Friday and the Easter announcement of resurrection.
There is great pain in our world, and our anger alerts us to the fact that it needs fixing. I become angry when I see the weak exploited, those I care about injured, and what I value destroyed. The desire for justice is legitimate. (In fact, God desires the elimination of evil even more than we do.) Yet when my longing for justice turns to violence and scorn, to lashing out and deprivation of love toward others—I no longer share God’s perspective. I move from being part of the solution to becoming just another part of the problem for I have embraced the way of wrath.
Dante called wrath a “love of justice perverted to revenge and spite.” Wrath is a simplistic, dehumanizing way to address the world’s problems. It takes no intellect or goodness of soul to start swinging at those who hurt me. Ultimately, wrath is a deadly sin because it separates us from those we ought to embrace and cherish as God’s fellow children. Wrath moves us away from those we could potentially spend eternity with. Yes, wickedness hurts us. When the sins of others target our joy, our welfare, and those we love, we rightly long for things to be made right. Wrath, however, is not concerned with restoration, only with revenge and dominance. Therefore, wrath aimed at our fellow human beings is always opposed to God’s activities.
Like the other deadly sins, wrath wars against the community—the kingdom—that God wants to create, and to us Jesus says, “Blessed are you who work for peace. You will be called a child of God … Love your enemies, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good” (Mt 5). Take a moment to let the Spirit expose wrath in your life, so you may repent and be free.
(Excerpt from Seven: the Deadly Sins and the Beatitudes by Jeff Cook)