Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Angry Face

Happy New Year, Everyone! I hope it has gotten off to a great start for all of you. On New Year's Eve, I hung out for a couple of hours at the hafleh at St. George, and then I went home around 10 PM. Even though it was New Year's Eve, I wanted to turn in early because I wanted to get up early the next morning and go to Liturgy. For those of you who don't know, January 1st is not only New Year's Day, but it is also the double feast of St. Basil and of the Circumcision of our Lord Jesus Christ (for those of you who aren't familiar with circumcision, it is the act of removing a bit of skin from the male reproductive organ, usually of a baby, a ritual common in many cultures and religions.) More on that later.

Anyway, I said my prayers, and laid down to go to sleep around 11:15 PM. I heard some noise coming from outside of my bedroom window. I looked out the window, and what did I see? My next door neighbor, along with about 10 other people, having a New Year's Eve party, 10 feet from my bedroom window, as I was trying to sleep! At first I brushed it off. I thought, "Well, it's only once a year." I tried to lay down on the couch, but it was uncomfortable. Midnight came and went. It was now approaching 2 AM, and I still hadn't slept, and they were still partying!

At that point, my anger got the best of me. I opened the window and yelled at them to be quiet, or I would call the police. I WAS ANGRY!!!

My wife wasn't as rude as I was. She went over there and nicely asked them to quiet down, but she got the cold shoulder. Eventually, despite my anger, I fell asleep, and woke up very tired. Thank God, I still made it to liturgy in time.

As I admitted, anger got the best of me. That's not a good thing. I tried to justify my anger by saying that the neighbors were loud, it was late, etc... But was that the right thing to do? What I should have done was to look at Christ, and discover that He was showing me a "better way" (1 Corinthians 13).

Back to New Year's. Like I said, January 1st is also the day that we celebrate the Circumcision of Christ. What's the big deal about baby Jesus getting circumcised? What's the point, and what does it have to do with me being angry on New Year's Eve?

Jewish law commands that every male child be circumcised eight days after birth. So eight days after the first Christmas, the baby Jesus was circumcised. This happened for several reasons. First of all, because Jesus is the fulfillment of the entire Jewish Law, and He perfected every commandment, He was circumcised. Even as God, the creator of the law, He subjected Himself to His own law when He became a human baby.

Secondly, our Lord felt pain when He was circumcised. In a way, this was the beginning of His suffering for us.

Finally, Christ's circumcision teaches us something. In the same way a piece of skin is cut off when a baby is circumcised, we should "cut off" the sins and passions that attack us on a daily basis. St. Paul writes, " Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ..." (Colossians 2:11)

What does that have to do with me being angry the other night? Instead of allowing my anger and frustration to get the better of me, leaving me exhausted and stressed out, I should have cut off the anger as soon as I felt it attack me, and turned to Christ, and asked for His help, which He would have gladly given me.

I encourage you all to do the same. Anger isn't always sinful, but if it controls you, it becomes something that can destroy relationships and souls. Cut it off before it gets a chance to get a grip on you. Circumcise the sins of the flesh from your body. Cut them off, and be done with them. Then you will find that peace and grace come to you from God, and the happiness that will come across your face is infinitely better than any "angry face" you can put on.

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