In the Gospel for this Sunday, a scholar of the law asked Jesus what he must do to be saved. Jesus responded with the two Great Commandments, including the second, which tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Scripture then tells us that the man, wishing to justify himself, asked, “And who is my neighbor?”
I find that comment interesting, that he wished to justify himself. That is something we all have done, trying to justify ourselves. Justification and rationalization are two techniques we have all used at one time or another. Here are some examples.
- I know that I should go to Mass today, because it is Sunday, but this is my only day to sleep in.
- Stealing is wrong, but this company doesn’t pay me what it should, so if I steal a little bit, I certainly deserve it.
- Jesus tells us to love and forgive everyone. But what this person has done is unforgivable.
- There is nothing wrong with a little white lie, and everyone does it.
- I know that abortion is wrong, but I really can’t deal with a baby right now. I am in the middle of college, and if I drop out to have a baby, I may never get back.
- My husband never shows any interest in me, and hasn’t for years. And this guy at work thinks that I am smart, and funny, and interesting and beautiful. I think I deserve some love and affection.
- My wife hasn’t touched me in three years, and a man has to do what a man has to do. I think I deserve some love and affection.
Examples could go on and on. There is no sin that cannot, and has not, been justified in the mind of the one who commits it. Even terrible crimes and horrors, such as murder and war, are always justified in the minds of those who commit them.
We need to look at our own moral decision-making. Are there things we know that are wrong but have somehow convinced ourselves are not wrong for us, right now?
–Fr. Mike Comer