The other day, I pulled a CD out in my car. It was labeled, “Survival Mix” which seemed like a good way to go. I put the CD in and it ended up being a homily by Fr. Mike Schmitz. Ok, not exactly what I had in mind with being called, “Survival Mix,” but I decided to listen to it anyway.
His homily was about the two sons whose father asked them to work in the vineyard. One son said he would go, but didn’t; the other initially said that he wouldn’t, but changed his mind and went to work in the vineyard. Father Mike went into detail about how there is no information given in regards to what made the second son change his mind. He just went. Not because it felt good, or because he experienced an overwhelming passion to go work in the vineyard, but because his father asked him to do it. It was the right thing to do.
I personally have this interior battle many days. I know the right thing, but I don’t feel like doing it. Or my heart isn’t all in. I worry that doing the right thing would be ingenuine. I worry that people will see a lack of zeal and passion in me and think that I’m just putting on a show. That’s not the reputation that I want; nor is it who I want to be. I really do want to do the right thing, for the right reasons.
I had discussed this idea with my wife a couple of weeks before. “Is it better to do the right thing for the wrong reasons, or to not do the right thing at all?” It didn’t take long for us both to reason that doing the right thing, even if the intentions are not completely pure, is the better path. In a nutshell, we came to the conclusion that, in continuously choosing to do the good, that would become a habit - a virtue. And as character develops through habits, the purification of intentions would follow. If I remained stuck in the debate of whether or not I should doing some good action, paralyzed by questioning my intentions, then I would never do anything. As human beings, our intentions are never 100% pure, as much as we might like them to be.
Now, I cannot finish this post without tying it back to Jesus on this Good Friday. Jesus is the perfect example of doing what is right, with pure intentions. Relating back to the son who did his father’s will (even if it didn’t feel good), Jesus makes his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, begging God to let this cup of suffering pass from him. Even before he was arrested, Jesus experienced the anguish of doing what was right. “Not my will, but yours be done.”
Jesus gives us a lofty example to follow here. To varying degrees, we experience the weight of choosing what is right. Whether it is an overactive protection of our authenticity - muah - or if doing the right thing will ultimately cost us our lives. We have the privilege of remembering today, the One who gave everything for the greatest common good the world will ever know.
With hearts that desire the good, and daily practices that help to develop in us the will to choose it, let us strive always to seek and do what is right, at any cost.