Luke 19: 45-48
Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.” Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
I am in the midst of writing a research paper on Thomas Aquinas’s treatise on the emotions found in the Summa Theologiae. Perhaps this explains why Jesus’ emotional response in the past two days has caught my attention. Yesterday Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Today Jesus drives out those who treat God’s house like a den of thieves, an incident recorded by all four evangelists. Even though Luke omits the details of overturned tables, spilled coins and a whip made of cords, Jesus is clearly angry. Sadness, anger, compassion, joy, fear: part of Jesus’ full humanity means that He felt the same emotions we do, and could express them appropriately.
While temperaments differ, emotions are such a significant dimension of human life. Psychologically healthy persons experience a wide range of emotions, and sometimes we feel numerous emotions in the course of a single day. Catholics do not embrace the Stoic philosophical belief that emotions are a “disease” to be suppressed because they undermine reason. We also avoid the other extreme, the tendency common to Romantic literature and art to exalt emotions above reason.
Experience shows that we usually regret giving emotions free reign over our actions. We should listen to our emotions and the wisdom they offer, yet our intelligence and freewill ought to shape and integrate our emotions, sometimes even rouse them, as when we stir into flame courage or love. Emotions can participate in our reason and have a moral dimension for humans absent in nonhuman animals.
We can also pray with our emotions, as Fr. Dennis Hamm, S.J. encourages when “rummaging through our day” by means of the Ignatian Examen. We might try this today: explore under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration the most intense emotion (whether “positive” or “negative”) I experienced in the last 24 hours. What insights—about me, the world, and God—come by pondering this emotional experience?
—Fr. Rob Kroll, S.J.
Lord, under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration help me to reflect on the most intense emotions of my day. Is it possible my emotions reveal a need for more life balance, for more honest communication, for more agility in sidestepping negativity or a realization that you are beckoning me to rely more on you? Lord, as you speak to me through the kaleidoscope of my emotions, let my feelings join with my reason to seek you more completely and live ever more sincerely and courageously for you,
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!