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EDIFYING RATHER THAN SCANDALIZING
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, 32nd Week of the Year, November 11, 2013
Wis. 1:1-7, Ps. 138, Luke 17:1-6


"And he said to his disciples, ‘Temptations to sin [skandala] are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin [skandalise]'" (Luke 17:1-2).


The Greek word used here for "temptations to sin" is skandala, in English, scandals; and the Greek word used here for "to cause to sin" is skandalise, in English, scandalize. We are not to scandalize others by our way of life or our behavior. In order to avoid giving scandal we are to live a good Christian life and be faithful to our state of life. If we do not live as we should, we not only harm ourselves, but others as well. Instead of inspiring them by our way of life, we will scandalize and weaken them. We are responsible not only for ourselves, but for our neighbor as well, whom we will also weaken and harm by our bad example.


But the reverse is also true. By our good example we edify others. And that is why we are in this world, to love God and love and help our neighbor for the love of God. We help our neighbor by giving him good example, by the way we live.


Priests, for example, can help the entire community not only by their preaching and administration of the sacraments but also by the example of their life dedicated to God. They have renounced marriage and family to live only for God with all the love of their heart, to be in love only with God, not dividing their heart in any way. They want all the love of their heart to go only and directly to God with a completely undivided heart in their love for him.


If their whole life is in harmony with this fundamental dedication of their heart, they give a very edifying example to all who see them. Their parishioners will notice that they live their whole life like this, in every aspect of their life, seeking all their delight in the Lord, not in worldly pleasures and entertainments. In this way they give an uplifting and inspiring example to their parishioners, their neighbors, to all who see and know them. They will inspire their people to imitate them as best they can in their own state of life.


People will be inspired if their priests live like this, if they dress as priests, as persons completely consecrated to God, witnessing even by their dress to this kind of consecrated life before a world so forgetful of God. People will be inspired if they see that their priests value and respect silence and that they are men of prayer and contemplation. People will be spiritually helped and uplifted if they see that their priests live a simple life, renounce a worldly lifestyle, eat simply, and spend their free time in a sane and sober way, embracing evangelical poverty, not following after worldly entertainments. A priest's good way of life backs up his preaching, giving it credibility and power. It edifies rather than scandalizes his parishioners. It strengthens rather than weakens them.

 

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