Thursday, February 05, 2015

Doing the Right Thing

By Colleen O’Sullivan

Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you.  Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  (Hebrews 13:7-8)

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?  The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?  For he will hide me in his abode in the day of trouble; He will conceal me in the shelter of his tent, he will set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:1, 5)

When his disciples heard about it, they came and took (John the Baptist’s) body and laid it in a tomb.  (Mark 6:29)

O Lord, grant me steadfastness in faith, trust in you alone, and courage to do the right thing in your name even when I am afraid.

Doing the right thing isn’t always easy.  Doing the right thing, doing the faithful thing doesn’t guarantee us protection from harm or even death.  John the Baptist certainly stood steadfast in pointing to Jesus.  Even King Herod found him interesting to listen to.  But Herod was weak, and he had a devious wife, who was glad to seize upon the opportunity to snuff out the annoying prophet’s life.

Today we remember St. Paul Miki, a 16th century Japanese Jesuit renowned for his preaching.  Maybe he was too good at it for the Japanese authorities.  He and 25 other Christians were punished for their faith and forced to march 600 miles.  They were then crucified.  This saint was still preaching from the cross and even managed to forgive his executioners before he died.

Recently, Pope Francis declared Archbishop Oscar Romero a martyr for the faith.  Every day in other parts of our world, our brother and sister Christians are giving their lives for their belief in Jesus Christ.

Even if we are never put to the ultimate test, what does it take to do the right thing?  The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us it takes knowing what the right thing is.  Imitate those who have passed the Word of God on to us.  Imitate their faith.  Be rooted in Christ.  He is the same today as he was in the first century and will be forever. 

Doing the right thing calls for trust.  As the psalmist writes, the Lord is our refuge; whom should we fear?  It doesn’t mean that we will never be hurt; it means having faith that even, or especially, in our trials, God will be with us, sheltering us.

Doing the right thing means having courage. (and many of us) define courage as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery,” but I think that’s all wrong.  To me, courage is doing the right thing even when we are afraid.  And fear is a very human emotion.  Courage means not letting our fears have the last word.  Our trust in God’s goodness enables us to act with courage when put on the spot.
When you are praying today, ask for help with any situation in your life where you are struggling to do the right thing.  Trust in God to answer your prayer.

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