|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at email@example.com.
Sunday, June 12, 2016
Stephen Covey and his book “Everyday Greatness” speaks of personal integrity — when our actions match our words and when our behaviors match our values. As Christians, we call ourselves to a high level of personal integrity. We are called to do the right thing for the right reasons at the right time.1
Stephen Covey gives a great example: There was once a father and son out fishing in the lake; they were fishing all day and it was now late in the evening. Then the son pulls in what was the largest Bass they had ever seen. The father gets a flashlight, looks at his watch and he sees that it is 10:10 p.m. at night. And he says to his son, “We have to let it go back because the Bass fishing season does not begin until midnight.” The son looks at him and says, “You’re kidding me.” And the father says, “No. Let it go.” The son protests and says, “But no one is watching; no one will know.” And the father says, “But we would know. Let it go.” And they let it go.
The son, 34 years later, continues to use that event as an occasion to remind himself of personal ethics; to do the right thing no matter who is watching and no matter who will know. That is what you and I are called to as Christians–to do the right thing at the right time, regardless of who is watching.
In today’s First Reading, we have this very example. David, who is our great ancestor in the faith, made a mistake. David lusted after one of his soldier’s wives and took her for himself. And to cover his tracks, he had the soldier murdered. This was no small mistake. This was a planned and pre-meditated decision. But then the Prophet Nathan challenges David, rather than being defensive, says, “You are absolutely right.” He turns to the Lord then and says, “Lord forgive me for what I have done,” and moves on with personal integrity for the rest of his reign as King.
In our own lives, we make mistakes. Sometimes they are small but sometimes they are big whoppers. We have to find a way to say I’m sorry; to ask for forgiveness and to realize that we do make mistakes. But often times we are so hard on ourselves and that disables us from going on.
It is not easy work, but remember that when we come to church on Sunday we come to seek strength from one another, not as some saintly group but as sinners, common in our sin. Church is not a museum for saints but is instead a hospital for sinners. We come together around this Eucharist each Sunday to remind ourselves that yes we have made mistakes, to ask for forgiveness, and then to go forth from here to forgive others.
So, today, let us be challenged by our own personal ethics; to aspire to the right ethics ourselves but then also to inspire others with the way we live our ethics by forgiving one another.
(Endnotes) 1 As quoted by Patricia Datchuck Sanchez, “Celebration: An Ecumenical Worship Resource,” (Kansas City, Missouri: National Catholic Reporter Company, Inc., June 13, 2010).