As he drew near the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing.
With that, Moses’ wrath flared up, so that he threw the tablets down
and broke them on the base of the mountain.
Taking the calf they had made, he fused it in the fire
and then ground it down to powder,
which he scattered on the water and made the children of Israel drink.
Moses’ anger gets the best of him, smashing the precious gift of the tablets that were made by God. How often do we come down from the mountaintop experiences of life and fall right back into our old ways, as if the encounter with the Divine was worthless? I am not saying that a righteous anger is unnecessary but I am wondering if that Old Testament fury is not what Jesus wants from us. It is this same Moses who will intervene on behalf of the people so that the Lord does not destroy them.
Anger can begin like a mustard seed that grows quickly and takes over but so do other emotions like patience, wisdom, love, and mercy. We always have a choice to act. What emotions are behind the actions may dictate the outcome. Thinking about the end result prior to making a decision may cause a different choice. St. Ignatius has excellent tools for making life decisions. One thing he advises is that someone who is in desolation–far from God–does not decide anything until consolation comes. I like this advice. We will probably arrive at a place where we can live with ourselves more easily when we stop, pray and discern before we react.
Have you ever made a decision in anger that you later regretted?
What has been a positive outcome for you when you have not reacted but waited to make a decision?
Teach us, Lord to wait
before we react,
to breathe before we berate,
to turn towards you instead of away.
May we choose mercy and love
over revenge and regret.