Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Devil Made Me Do It

We are great at blaming others for things. When I was a child, a popular comedian made a fortune with a routine that had the catchphrase "The devil made me do it". It was a humorous way to try and deflect attention to bad actions committed, and was just as crazy then as now. The devil cannot make us do anything. If God Himself, who has given us free will, does not make us do what He wants, it is ridiculous to try and pass the blame for bad behavior onto others, even the devil. To be certain, the devil tempts us, just as God offers us grace. But the decisions are ours alone.
In today's Gospel (Mark 7:14-23) Jesus tells everyone, in very strong terms, that they have to take responsibility for what they say and do. By declaring that what comes from within is what can defile you, rather than what comes from outside, He is putting all on notice that they will have to answer for their actions. And this proclamation is more needed today than ever before. 
We spend more time trying to blame others when we should be reflecting on ourselves. It is amazing how many people who come for the Sacrament of Reconciliation begin with a litany of what other people have done. It is really an attempt to somehow justify their own actions. "Well, my brother took my toy, so I hit him." "Everybody else at work takes office supplies home, so I took a ream of paper." "I use the Lord's name in vain ad curse when people cut me off in traffic."

The Lord today makes it clear that He will not be judging us on what other do. We will have to answer for our words and actions. On the day of judgment, Satan will not be there to say "Oh yes, I made this person say/do that." The devil will not be held responsible for our sins, we will.
So, we better take time to evaluate, openly and honestly, what we say and do and see how we measure up. And the measure is not how am I compared to other people? Oh no, our standard is much higher. I need to ask myself  how I am speaking/ acting/ living compared to Christ.
God does not want to hear us say "the devil made me do it". God wants to hear us say "Christ helped me do it!"

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