Holy Week 2021
Welcome to our Holy week Monday meditation as we try to recognise the grieving process, we are all experiencing this year, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday for Palm Sunday we looked at the denial that can occur and, at the moment, some of you are experiencing that. However, once our minds get beyond denial, and as we start to come to terms with the losses we have experienced then the next stage of our grief begins to rear its head which is anger.
It is very appropriate to look at anger today when in the synoptic Gospels it is on the Monday of Holy Week that Jesus turns over the tables in the temple. It is a shocking scene in many ways. After all, this is the king of love, a meek and humble man who talks of peace, yet this scene is far from peaceful.
Jesus at the temple
12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘“My house will be called a house of prayer,”[e] but you are making it “a den of robbers.”[f]’
14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they were indignant.
16 ‘Do you hear what these children are saying?’ they asked him.
‘Yes,’ replied Jesus, ‘have you never read,
‘“From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise”[g]?’
17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
I think to understand Jesus anger you need to consider what the animals and temple tax was used for. They were used by the people in their worship, for sacrifices of atonement and to renew their relationship with the Father. Jesus in five days time is going to suffer an extremely painful death to offer this to all people, yet in these courts you had people exploiting peoples’ religious desires for their own ends, to become very wealthy. You can understand why Jesus felt as angry as he did. He might well have been thinking that if they were actually helping people draw near to the father then he might not have to undergo the suffering as he was about to experience.
Anger occurs in many levels during the grief process. Anger that you are left behind, that you could not do more for your loved one, that the medical fraternity did not do more. You might be angry that you did not see it coming. You might even feel angry at God feeling that through faith your loved one should have been healed. At the heart of the anger is pain, your pain. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned in loss, but at the same time we live in a society that fears anger, which makes the bible story even more shocking to us than it would have been in Jesus day. You will get told your anger is misplaced, inappropriate or disproportionate. But it is their problem that they cannot handle your anger, your job in grief is to honour that anger by being angry. It is a strength and an anchor. We need to find healthy ways to express our anger so it is not violent, such as exercise, gardening or screaming into a pillow. You must not bottle it up inside but instead explore it for the more anger you allow yourself to feel, the more feelings you will find hidden underneath. It is the most immediate emotion but as you deal with it you will find others, mostly the pain of loss but that is all part of the process. You will come out the other end, it will subside so do not let anyone diminish the importance of you feeling angry. You have to go through this stage.
I believe our society will be very angry for a long time. As we come out of lockdown, do not be surprised at the civil unrest that will develop. It is well documented from past epidemics such as Ebola in Africa. You might become angry at people not following the masking rules in the store, or flouting travel restrictions. You might be angry at politicians for throwing millions if not billions at their friends for contracts that achieve nothing. It is right for us to feel angry, just as it was right for Jesus to be angry. It is part of the process we must recognise it and work through it along with every other stage including the next one of bargaining, but we will look at that tomorrow. God bless you.