You can listen to the Gospel and Sunday homily here.
The bulletin article follows:
Pride, greed, lust, wrath, gluttony, envy, and sloth. Not a very pretty list, one might say. It is a list that is at least 1400 years old. It is a list of sins so serious that the Church, and others, have named them “Deadly” — the Seven Deadly Sins. There is wisdom in recognizing their death-dealing potential.
One of the sins in that list is called “wrath”, which is distinguished from anger. “The neutral act of anger becomes the sin of wrath when it is directed against an innocent person, when it’s unduly strong or long-lasting, or when it desires excessive punishment.” One of the most destructive expressions of wrath is vengeance, which Dante described as “love of justice perverted to revenge and spite”. It is obvious that wrath is directly opposed to the virtue of charity and the respect for persons to which we are called by the Gospel. Wrath expresses itself as a kind of contempt for others that dehumanizes and demonizes them, because they disagree with us. This very contempt for others becomes the fertile ground for planting seeds of revenge, and yes, even violence. We might ask ourselves why in recent years, we in the United States found it necessary to create a whole new class of criminal offenses named “hate crimes.”
While specific motives still elude us, I would say that recent deadly massacre in Las Vegas was an example of the results of wrath. The innocent victims were unknown to the shooter, and yet still he murdered them. While he alone is responsible for these deadly acts, we should not be blind to the wrath that today seems to pervade our society, and that is expressed in countless ways.
Jeffrey Kluger, writing in Time magazine, said: “Americans have made something of a fetish of our rage of late — a fact that’s even been leaking into our language. The base is never just “animated,” it’s always “enraged.” Health care debates are never “spirited,” they’re always “furious.” In the run-up to the 2016 election, a CNN/ORC poll found that 69% of Americans reported being either very or somewhat angry at the state of the nation. That showed itself in a kind of rage voting on both sides of the political divide.”
Social media seems to offer a way to deepen the rage. We find ourselves in “news bubbles” where our own likes and interests are amplified, and where reactions are validated by others who share our positions. We seldom hear the real voices of “those others”, as each side abandons a search for the whole truth, choosing instead the 160 character put-down or the photoshopped meme, or the mis-attributed photo. All these things stoke the anger that was simmering, as people shout past each other in condemnation of the other.
This is not an acceptable method for civil discourse, whether the topic is politics, religion or societal values. We might want to examine our own attitudes and reactions, question our judgments of others, and at least consider that we might not posses the whole truth, that we might not know the full story. When anger leads to wrath, the sin becomes deadly, in countless ways.