It was a well-kept secret; for a whole 6 months I had had no idea. It wasn’t my fault though, there was no way could I have known. I was always the one who drove after all. So when I slid into the passenger seat with my best friend Teresa at the wheel, I had no idea what was about to ensue. She knew exactly where she was going and which roads and highways to take. But just in case, Carly the GPS was positioned on the windshield as well, giving her monotone instructions. All of a sudden, other options pop up… North or south? East or west? There are road signs pointing in six different directions. Too many choices! The GPS says to go left and Teresa knows that she should… but all the other cars are going right, and suddenly the road she knew she had to get on is gone from her mind. In an instant Teresa and I are on the wrong road… going the opposite direction and looking around wondering, “what just happened?”
Getting confused and lost can happen just as easily in our spiritual life because of the sin of scandal. The English word “scandal” comes from the Greek root skandalon, which means “a stumbling block.” The sin of scandal is to cause someone else to turn away from good and do wrong. This is so serious that it’s a sin against the 5th Commandment. Yeah, that’s the one that says, “Thou shalt not kill.” To help someone else turn away from good and sin is to help them destroy their soul. God doesn’t take that lightly.
The Church takes a strong stand against scandal and calls us to not put ourselves willingly into an occasion to be scandalized - led away from our morals. Magazines and TV profit by being as captivating and shocking as they can be. They do that by turning the sins of others into entertainment. They make sin look appealing, fun, and popular – “Everyone’s doing it.” The kind of headlines that come flying at us say: “Look at this! Read that! Do this! Be just like them! Here’s what’s hot!”
The Magisterium of the Church works hard to make sure we understand what truth is. Scandal makes us question that, and things that are morally black and white become gray in our minds. We not only ask ourselves if we are truly happy following God’s way; we might even imitate the wrong example set by others.
Scandal – the sin and example of others that lead us into sin – is like all the different road signs and cars distracting us when our eyes are set on the road to Heaven. Simply put: don’t scandalize others and don’t allow yourself to be scandalized. And when the world does shove scandal in your face, don’t get caught without the seat belt of truth, given by the teaching of the Church, to keep you grounded.