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A Reflection from Father King
Last week I wrote about the problem of giving scandal to others by our words or actions, or by our omitting to do the good we ought to do. There is one common idea that makes it hard for us to understand the importance of not giving scandal. We hear many people say that each person can make up their own meaning of life in addition to what is true and good for them. As long as what I do makes me happy and no one is hurt by my actions, I should be free to do whatever I wish. What is good for me might not be good for you – but that is your problem. You cannot judge whether my actions are good or not. Our consciences tell us to do good and avoid evil, but many today think that each person makes up his own idea of what is good and what is evil.
That understanding makes it hard for us to abide by the law of God that we naturally hear in our consciences and that are clearly stated for us in the Ten Commandments. Perhaps, we think, God is wrong to impose laws on us, and they are just His random rules anyway. It makes it even harder for us to accept the teachings of the Church, which express the teachings of Jesus, and clarify how we should live as His followers in the most important aspects of our lives. Finally, it makes it very hard for us to see that our actions or words may lead others to moral and spiritual ruin. We can easily convince ourselves that each person makes up their own mind, and my example has nothing to do with how they live their lives.
We need to remind ourselves that there is a true good which we must always do, and there are words and actions that are truly evil which we must always avoid. We may hear people say that each person can make up their own idea of what is good, but the reality will always remain. When, before the Inquisition, Galileo recanted his theory that the earth revolved around the sun, he is said to have muttered ‘And yet it moves.’ Some people may think that murder is not wrong for everyone – and yet the reality is the opposite. Some others may believe that anyone should be free to marry whomsoever they wish, yet the reality remains the opposite. To avoid giving scandal we must accept that we are bound by the good we must do and the evil we must avoid.