jesus on scandals
"Scandals will inevitably arise..." —Luke 17:1
I just returned from the grocery store, where I heard a man talking disgustedly on his cell phone about yet another sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. What does Jesus say about scandal?
In Luke chapter 17, Jesus presents a "scandal cycle" that is to lead to an end result of faith:
- He sternly warns all to avoid scandal (Lk 17:1-2), a word which can also be translated as leading others to sin.
- This warning must lead us to be on guard (Lk 17:3). We are to correct both ourselves and those involved in scandalous behavior (Lk 17:3).
- Correction is to lead to repentance and forgiveness (Lk 17:3-4), breaking the damaging power of the scandal. This is impossible for men, but not for God (Mt 19:26).
- All of the above must lead to faith, mountain-moving faith (Lk 17:5-6). Jesus wants scandals to lead to faith.
In the midst of scandal, we can choose to stay on the human level and discuss our thoughts with others. This gives life to the scandal and ensures its spreading damage. On the other hand, we can choose to rise above the natural to the spiritual level. We can bring it to Jesus and get His mind on the scandal. We can step out in prayer and fasting for victims, charitable correction where appropriate, constant forgiveness, and so act to overcome the scandal.
Jesus can turn even the worst mess into good (Rm 8:28). "Once you know all these things, blest will you be if you put them into practice" (Jn 13:17).
Prayer: Jesus, use me to heal those hurt by scandal. May I lead people to faith, not bitterness.
Promise: "[God] is found by those who test Him not." —Wis 1:2
Praise: Jo Ann made it a practice not to discuss any headline scandals with others, but instead prayed quietly for all involved.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 21, 2005
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