If I may use human terms to help your natural weakness: as once you put your bodies at the service of vice and immorality, so now you must put them at the service of righteousness for your sanctification.
When you were slaves of sin, you felt no obligation to righteousness, and what did you get from this? Nothing but experiences that now make you blush, since that sort of behaviour ends in death. Now, however, you have been set free from sin, you have been made slaves of God, and you get a reward leading to your sanctification and ending in eternal life. For the wage paid by sin is death; the present given by God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over!
‘Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’
A week ago, one of my colleagues found that a group of scientists had copied another group’s article wholesale and published it in another journal. The copied article was a rather good one at that. It became so widely publicized among the community that the Wikipedia entry on plagiarism cited it as example. Being academics, there is no excuse in saying they did not know they could not do such a thing. The group is currently under investigation and I must say the prospects do not look good.
Have you ever copied work before? It may be school work, office work, a gift idea, etc. I do know of a few people who have never done so before. But most of those I know have. It is quite a prevalent thing really and not hard to do at all. Here’s an example. When I was in Secondary 1, I read a well known story in a textbook. The imagery in the tale was so stark that in an essay I wrote later that year, my writing was built around it. So much so that my teacher called me aside after class. Though it was never my intention to steal the story and pass it off as my own and I said so to my teacher. But at the very heart of the matter, I still did wrong. In an attempt to be sound more sophisticated, I’d not given credit where it was due. And it was so easy that I did it all unconsciously. A bitter pill to swallow but this was an essential supplement.
The matter is quite simple really. There comes a point when we are made aware of matters. After that point, how will we handle situations relating to those matters. Taking the above examples of plagiarism, the decision is whether or not to take without giving credit. We have another example of this in our first reading for the day. Can we continue to stand against righteousness after learning what it is about? Sure we can, that’s what free will is about. Things won’t turn out well of course. Just as the group of scientists is currently in trouble so will we eventually find ourselves in a mess if we turn our backs from God.
So standing by righteousness seems like the better thing to do and St Paul implores us to do that too. But is it any easier? Like Paul says, to go with sin is something that comes naturally. It happens before we realize God and it lures even after that. It embarrasses us and can become a source of personal shame. That is the degree of allure it holds. Being on the side of righteousness is not easy with all that background. Paul however implores us to be as righteous as we were once sinful. To have it as a source of personal pride. A very difficult thing to do as Christ admits in the Gospel passage. It is something that will cause dissent, even among the closest relations. All this adds attractiveness to just sit down and shut up. It has to be done though, if just to stir up a ruckus. One which at least attracts attention. It’ll be for the good of ourselves, for those to whom we are making the point and for Christ.
It is quite explicitly stated, brothers and sisters, by Christ Himself and by many others, that there is simply no grey area here. Not after such a significant event as coming to know what righteousness is. We are either for it wholly or not for it at all. It is hard medicine to take and it is easy to refuse it. Just as it is easy to consciously, subconsciously or unconsciously copy someone else’s work. No doubt about this at all. But the question still remains. Yes or no?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Aloysius Ting)
Prayer: Lord, help us to make the right choices in life.
Give thanks to the Lord for: Hard lessons that last.
Fri, 26 Oct – Romans 7:18-25a; Luke 12:54-59
Sat, 27 Oct – Romans 8:1-11; Luke 13:1-9
Sun, 28 Oct – Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14; Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.