CathBlog - Don't let the sun set on your anger


From where we live you sometimes get a beautiful view of the sunset over the Blue Mountains. It’s a chance to enjoy God’s beauty and creation in an otherwise fairly rundown suburban area. 

These sunny Sydney winter days have bought a couple of beautiful sunsets in recent weeks. As I watch them, I cannot get a recent phrase out of my mind: “Don’t let the sun set on your anger.”

It has been playing over and over in my mind since a colleague used it recently.  Lurking in the back of my mind like a song that you hear on the radio first thing in the morning and stays with you the whole day through.

It is actually from Ephesians 4:26: “Be angry, but do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger”. 

My colleague was talking about anger as a positive emotion: the energy and the power to act. 

In Ephesians 4, he thought that we as Christians are being challenged by God to not let the fire go out. Don’t let the sun set on your anger – Passion keep it going, and the next day remain passionate about the things that are important to you.  

As social justice coordinator, I meet many people who demonstrate passion and long term commitment to many social justice issues, and to our church, sometimes against all odds. 

Some people share their individual story and you just wonder how and why they are still doing what they are doing. If life’s experiences had treated me the way some folk have experienced the bumps and bruises of life’s journey then I think that I may have given up a long time ago. But they are people who have refused to let the sun set on their anger – on their power and passion to act.  

I was intrigued by my colleague’s take on this biblical text, as growing up I had always experienced adults as looking upon anger as a negative emotion. We were encouraged to name what we were angry about, but we always had the impression it was disturbing the “peace” of the family or the classroom. Truth be known it most probably was. 

I am sure that my colleague would have associated the prophet’s power to “disturb” with the ability to never let the fire of your passion die out. I am certainly sure that my colleague was not talking about the type of anger or aggression that we see in our media or on the streets these days. 

Last weekend I had the experience of meeting the film director of Our Generation. A calm, knowledgeable and articulate person. In his speaking about the issues facing indigenous people and the Stronger Futures legislation, one could say that he is a person who had journeyed with these people and with this issue for many years, calmly but perseveringly telling this justice story. 

He is a person you would never describe as an “angry” person, but one who had quietly and serenely never let the sun go down on his anger. This was a reflection of his commitment to the justice issues facing Australia’s Indigenous people.  

In last Sunday’s Gospel we also experience a calm, serene, knowledgeable and articulate Christ, a person with the power to act. We are told that when Jesus saw the crowd before him like sheep without a shepherd, he felt sorry for them, he set about to teach them at some length.  He saw their need and acted on it. 

I somehow think these are wise words (Ephesians 4) and that it is a wise perspective that my colleague is taking on it. The next time that I see one of those beautiful sunsets I shall certainly be thinking and praying about the things that I have the power to act on.  

Louise McKeoghSister Louise McKeogh FMA is Caritas and Social Justice Office Coordinator for the Diocese of Parramatta. Flickr image: Samuel Rich.

Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.

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