MONDAY MEDITATION: Compassionately Angry (August 2)

A man with a skin disease approached Jesus, fell to his knees, and begged, “If you want, you can make me clean.” Incensed, Jesus reached out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do want to. Be clean.”  — Mark 1:40-41

A man with leprosy asks Jesus to heal him, and Jesus is “incensed”?

This seems out of place.

Apparently a few people copying Mark’s Gospel in the first century felt this way. Some early manuscripts of Mark have “moved by compassion” here instead. It’s like some copiers knew that in other places Jesus felt compassion, so this must be what Mark meant.

But wait.

Isn’t anger also on the same coin as compassion, only on the flip side?

How can you love someone without being angry at whatever is hurting that person?

Maybe Jesus was angry at the disease that had made the leper a social outcast.

Maybe he was angry at the social system that would condemn the leper as unclean and command him to live with other lepers outside the village.

Maybe he was angry at the religious system that assumed the leper was a sinner and his disease was divine punishment.

Regardless, he was mad. His healing the man was a “Take that!” to the forces that persecuted him.

Anger at pain and injustice is a necessary part of being compassionate, being Christian, at times, isn’t it?

Why else do Christians protest? Enter politics? Write? Lobby?

Anger gives feet and voice to compassion. What good is it to only feed the hungry without confronting the factors that have made them hungry in the first place?

Jesus looked at what was behind the face of the hurting, and got incensed.

May God grant us the insight to be so compassionately angry.

5 thoughts on “MONDAY MEDITATION: Compassionately Angry (August 2)”

  1. Hi Greg!
    I have started to assume more of a care-taker role for my mom over the past several years (thankfully, she’s now in independent living at Cape Albeon!)
    When I read this, I immediately thought of all the times that I’ve been SO ‘incensed’ by the numerous challenges of navigating her medical care! Scheduling, waiting, calling for referrals, switching up prescriptions, making a chart for the 5 eye drops that were all taken at different times of the day…augh! I feel such empathy for those who have to do this on their own!
    Your blog helped me remember to only be ‘incensed’ by the challenges of the situation (and I’m usually cool on that, but, wowza, there have been moments!!!) but to stay calm & caring towards helping my mom feel better 💕

    PS: we miss seeing you! 😊

    • So good to hear from you, Genny, and so very glad that the devotion was meaningful to you. What a wonderful labor of love for your mom. Your description of what you do and how you feel certainly bears similarity to Jesus’ situation–thanks for sharing!
      Hope all is well.

  2. Your message looks at compassion/anger in a new way for me.It makes so much sense. Thank you for putting these puzzle pieces together. You have such a gift for putting the Gospel in our daily lives.

    I miss seeing you. I’m so glad I can still hear your messages.


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