WHAT IS SCANDAL?
“How scandalous!” We often here people saying upon seeing something disagreeable to their standards, whether right or wrong, objective or subjective, true or pharisaical. BUT WHAT IS SCANDAL?
In this season of Lent, time for spiritual renewal and personal conversion, and time for spiritual combat against evil, with the help of God’s grace, it is appropriate to examine ourselves whether something in our behavior or conduct could cause scandal in our surroundings.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church dedicates some points on this topic, under the heading “RESPECT FOR THE SOULS OF OTHERS: SCANDAL”. Let’s review them.
“2284 Scandal is AN ATTITUDE OR BEHAVIOR WHICH LEADS ANOTHER TO DO EVIL. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s TEMPTER. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if BY DEED OR OMISSION another is deliberately led into a grave offense.
2285 Scandal takes on a PARTICULAR GRAVITY BY REASON OF THE AUTHORITY OF THOSE WHO CAUSE IT OR THE WEAKNESS OF THOSE WHO ARE SCANDALIZED. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea (Mt 18:6; Cf. 1 Cor 8:10-13.).” Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep’s clothing (Cf. Mt 7:15).
2286 Scandal can be provoked by LAWS or INSTITUTIONS, by FASHION or OPINION.
Therefore, THEY ARE GUILTY OF SCANDAL WHO ESTABLISH LAWS OR SOCIAL STRUCTURES LEADING TO THE DECLINE OF MORALS AND THE CORRUPTION OF RELIGIOUS PRACTICE, or to “social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible (Pius XII, Discourse, June 1, 1941).” This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger (Cf. Eph 6:4; Col. 3:21), or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values.
2287 Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! (Lk 17:1)”
Lord, is there anything in my attitude or behavior which leads others to sin?
If so, with your divine grace and my sincere determination, help me uproot them . I also pray likewise for the others so that with our personal efforts to rectify would help others to come closer to you this season of Lent.
Dear brethren in Christ, our actions have repercussions on others, for good or for bad, let us not forget. May we renew our struggle to say “no” to ourselves, “no” to evil, and to all things which separate us from God and from others. May we strive to give good example to others and avoid anything in our behavior which would lead others to stumble to sin and offend God, lest we would be the “tempter” leading others to fall.
Mary, Help of Christians, Refuge of sinners, pray for us!
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