Emotions are part of being human. There's something seriously wrong with someone who lacks emotions. It can be a sign of hebephrenia, or other serious disorders.
We may seem less emotional as we mature: but that's because most of us learn how to manage our emotions. Or mismanage them.
It's hardly surprising that an angry human and an angry cat look alike in some ways. We're both animals — I'd better explain that.
I'm a Catholic, so I must believe that humanity is made in the image of the God. (Genesis 1:27)
Each of us is someone, not something; a person — able to reason, and decide how we act — and in these ways like God. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 357, 1700-1706)
Our track record for using our reason and freedom is far from perfect, and that's another topic. (Catechism, 1707-1709)
We're animals, male and female: a special sort of animal; able to reason, understand, discern, and decide how we think and act. (Genesis 1:27; Catechism, 1951, 1730)
Getting back to anger — like any other emotion, it isn't good or bad by itself. Emotions happen. What matters is how I deal with being angry: how I use my will and reason. (Catechism, 1767)
Our Lord raised the stakes in Matthew 5:20-26, Friday's Gospel reading.
"15 16 'You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, "You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment."Behaving ourselves, controlling our actions, is a good idea. So is controlling what happens inside, in our heart. (Matthew 15:18-19)
"17 But I say to you, whoever is angry 18 with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna."
That's the idea behind the crack about whitewashed tombs in Matthew 23:26-27: or whited sepulchers, for folks who like antique English.
Matthew 5 isn't the only place where we're told to lay off saying "raqa," metaphorically speaking.
Ephesians 6:4 tells fathers: "...do not provoke your children to anger...," which is pretty close to Colossians 3:21. I think the same goes for teachers, which isn't quite another topic. (Catechism, 2223, 2286)
"Raqa," or "reqa," probably meant something like "imbecile," or "blockhead" in Aramaic. Either way, it's offensive: the sort of insult that could lead to murder.
I'm pretty sure that the idea in Matthew 5:22 is that verbal abuse is a bad idea, and we shouldn't do it. The other person might get angry enough to hurt me.
Worse, in a way, venting my feelings could become a bad habit: which probably involves my basal ganglia, and certainly gets harder to change as I get older.
Bottom line — How we treat others matters. So does what we keep in our minds and hearts.
The brain's neurocircuitry handles emotions, which is why hypothalamic disease plays hob with our feelings.
Wrenching myself back on-topic — In English, a "passion" is a strong emotion; a state of strong sexual desire, or love; or boundless enthusiasm. (thefreedictionary.com)
In Catholic writing, "passion" means something closer to "feelings." These emotions push us toward acting or not acting about something we feel or imagine is good or evil. (Catechism, 1763)
"ANGER: An emotion which is not in itself wrong, but which, when it is not controlled by reason or hardens into resentment and hate, becomes one of the seven capital sins. Christ taught that anger is an offense against the fifth commandment (1765, 1866, 2262)."I don't think that feeling angry about some injustice is wrong. Deliberately staying angry, letting that emotional impulse turn into hate or despair: that would be wrong. (Catechism, 1501, 2091)
"PASSIONS, MORAL: The emotions or dispositions which incline us to good or evil actions, such as love and hate, hope and fear, joy and sadness, and anger (1763)."
The flip side of despair is presumption, and that's yet another topic. (Catechism, 2092)
Feeling angry isn't good, bad, or indifferent — not in terms of being good or bad.
Sometimes it just happens.
Hanging on to anger, letting it build into a desire to harm or kill someone else: that's where it becomes a sin. (Catechism, 1762-1775, 2302-2303)
Like it says in Romans 12:19: "...'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' " And that's yet again another topic. (January 11, 2015; July 13, 2014; September 11, 2010)
Then there's the notion that God has anger management issues. It's not limited to Americans. More topics. (July 13, 2014; December 1, 2013)
Doing what's right is easier when emotions are in sync with our reason: but "...conscience is a law of the mind...." We've got brains, and are expected to think. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1762-1775, 1776)
More of my take on making sense:
- "Charlie Hebdo, Chick Tracts, and Getting a Grip"
(January 11, 2015)
- "Joy and Standing Orders"
(October 5, 2014)
- "Morality isn't Just About 'Morality' "
(September 7, 2014)
- "Vengeance, Anger, and Looking Ahead"
(July 13, 2014)
- "Trusting Emotions: Within Reason"
(December 8, 2013)