Doing Right

A reading for Wednesday, March 26, 2014: Mark 6:13-29.

Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.” Most of us are pretty good at rationalizing the wrong we participate in. We drive too fast because everyone is driving too fast. We cut corners when paying our taxes because everybody does that. We pretend not to notice the person in distress because other are passing by and pretending not to notice.

King Herod was pretty good at finding ways to justify his immoral behavior too. He participated in the killing of John the Baptist at the request of his daughter, who was acting on behalf of her mother. There were others in the room that day too. All of them together seemed to rationalize beheading John. Herod knew John was a good man, sent from God even, and yet he did wrong because the crowd shared in it.

Notice however that once Herod was alone with his thoughts, his paranoia was stronger than his rationalizing. When he heard about the miraculous things Jesus was doing, he was quick to believe John had returned from the dead to exact his revenge. The wrong Herod had participated in against John did not go away. In fact, it came back again and again. Truth is the majority was not there to share in it this time. Herod was alone with his wrong.

Hence the problem with the wrong we participate in as well. We may be able to justify it when other are willing to participate with us. "Everybody is doing this... so it's okay." But once we are alone with our conscience it comes back again and again. Even worse, our wrong can turn into tragedy. If we hurt someone while driving too fast, someone will suffer. Our family suffers because we have cut corners on our taxes. All of society suffers when we justify passing by those in need of help. Just like Herod the wrong we commit does not go away, it comes back again and again. We too are suddenly alone with our wrong.

The good news is that Jesus and the community that bears his name has the power to cast out our demons and anoint our lives with goodness. We are not at the mercy of the crowd to do wrong. Through Christ we are granted to power to resist evil, and to do right even when others are doing wrong. When we slip, we are forgiven again and again and set back upon the right path. We are given the gift of the community of God's people, not to share in doing wrong, but to share in doing right. When we do what pleases God, we are never alone.

It's not always easy to do the right thing, but the truth is it's also not always right to do the easy thing.


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