23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday

Today’s society is plagued by ways of losing your temper, inspired by the principle of “don’t get mad, get even”: people go postal, get road rage, drop f-bombs, go ballistic, send flame mails, and are branded as trolls online. Our Lord in today’s Gospel tells us the Christian response to people who get on our nerves: “don’t get mad, get praying,” talk to your manager if you’ve got a problem, keep driving calmly and forgive the guy who’s tailgating you, watch your mouth, take a walk and cool off, send that e-mail draft or destructo-comment to the trash unpublished. In biblical language that is translated in terms of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another,” as St. Paul teaches in the First Reading today.

In today’s edgy, thin-skinned, irritable society that is a tall order. It’s not something we can accomplish overnight, but the best way to help us reconquer these virtues again is to contemplate Christ crucified when we think we’re about to blow. Our Lord didn’t just preach this in today’s Gospel; he lived it. None of us have been mistreated as badly as him and he bore with it all and forgave everyone who sought it (even desired to forgive those who didn’t). Contemplation is not simply remembering; it is seeing the scene in your mind, with Christ, and not just once. It is through contemplation and grace that we achieve the recollection to help us keep from losing control, and in contemplating Christ crucified little by little we realize how beautiful charity toward others and despite others is, and how petty we can often be.

If feel like you’re going to blow today, find a Crucifix and ask Our Lord for the grace to handle that situation as he would: with endurance and forgiveness.

Readings: Colossians 3:12–17; Psalm 150:1b–6; Luke 6:27–38.