One of the negative side effects of the holiday season is that due to the pressures and demands we place upon ourselves to buy sufficient presents for everyone to whom we feel we owe a gift, to meet all of the demands of family and friends and business, to get to all of the events which we feel obligated to attend, we often find ourselves short of patience and quite angry. It is something I’ve noted especially in those who come to confession during the Nativity Lent. Stress, anger and impatience boil over in our rush to make a perfect Christmas season, which ostensibly is to honor the King of Peace. St. Paul reminds us as Christians that anger is sin and should not be a normal part of our lives, but should be overcome by our life in Christ.
When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you also once walked when you lived in them. But now you must also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. (emphasis not in the original text)
So next time your stuck in holiday traffic around the mall and find your temper boiling over, or you feel road rage, or you are angry at your family for making you late, remember you are a Christian: “But now you must also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.”
If someone has offended you, think about the words of St. Basil the Great, and put them into practice for the sake of Christ, whose birth you are celebrating this holiday season:
“Do not then cure the evil with evil, nor attempt to outdo each other in such matters. […] Has someone insulted you in anger? Stop the evil by silence. But you, as if receiving the stream of that person’s anger into your own heart, imitate the wind, repaying by blowing back what it has borne to you. Do not use your enemy as a teacher, and as for what you hate, do not emulate this. Do not, as it were, become a mirror of the one prone to anger, showing the likeness of that person in yourself.” (St. Basil the Great, On the Human Condition, pg. 84)