Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why Do You Not Judge for Yourselves What Is Right?

October 21, 2011

Friday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand. For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 4:4-5)

I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts. (Psalms 119:94)

(Jesus) said to the crowds, “When you see [a] cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain—and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot—and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time? Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison. I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.” (Luke 12:54-59)


Lord, I pray that You eradicate the sin that dwells in me… and help me to do good, not just talk about it and say I’m willing.


One of the most heartbreaking scenes in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women comes in a chapter titled “Little Faithful,” just after Mrs. March has left for Washington to nurse her husband. Back at home, her four daughters initially remember their pledges to help each other and the neighbors, in particular the poverty-stricken Hummels, but the initial vigor passes for all but Beth. Alcott writes:

All were unconscious that this experience was a test of character; and, when the first excitement was over, felt that they had done well, and deserved praise. So they did; but their mistake was in ceasing to do well, and they learned this lesson through much anxiety and regret.

The anxiety and regret occur in the next two pages, when Beth goes to care for the Hummels because none of her sisters will. Later in the day, older sister Jo comes home to find a tear-stained Beth with a bottle of camphor. The Hummels’ baby has died of scarlet fever, and the doctor suspects Beth is stricken as well. Her sisters, especially the two who have already had scarlet fever, castigate themselves for forgetting their pledges to help, leaving Beth with the burden.

Now, Little Women fans will remember that Beth after a close brush with death rallies to live several more years. But the point here is how difficult it can be for all of us to be “Little Faithful.” Talking about doing what we know is right is easy. Actually doing it, especially on a day-in, day-out basis, is not. As Paul says in today’s first reading, “The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls on us to stay in the moment to do God’s will and settle our earthly differences, rather than to focus on what might happen or how resolution might come tomorrow. The March sisters also show us what happens when we figure our past good deeds will be enough to get us to tomorrow. In short, we can’t change yesterday or forecast tomorrow. All we have is the present. How will you spend it?


In the coming week, seek God’s assistance in focusing what you need to be doing now to help bring souls to the Kingdom… not tomorrow, or next month, or next year. Then do what He asks.