Monday, January 24, 2011

Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, bishop

(Hebrews 9:15.24-28; Mark 3:22-30)

In 1858 Abraham Lincoln used Jesus’ statement in today’s gospel to explain why the status quo regarding slavery in America was doomed. The country was being continually thrown into crisis because the South could not tolerate the loss of political power when territories wanted to join the Union as “free” states. Lincoln reasoned that the United States would have to become completely slave or completely free just as “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Lincoln’s application of Jesus’ statement reminds us not to compromise with evil. A group of associates incessantly making sexual innuendos, a habit of “borrowing” from the company to pay personal debts, a practice of lying about one’s whereabouts – any of these situations can lead us fully down the path to corruption. It is true, as St. Francis De Sales once wrote, that we need to be patient with ourselves. But patience is not allowing evil to take root in our hearts but to make constant effort, as a gardener weeding his flower patch, that vice has difficulty finding a place to germinate.