Saturday, 17th Week in Ordinary Time
What a tragic story we have in today’s gospel passage: John is murdered by Herod in cold blood. But worse than murdering a good man is murdering one’s own conscience – which is what Herod did.
A man consulted a doctor, “I’ve been misbehaving, Doc, and my conscience is troubling me.” “And you want something that will strengthen your will power?” asked the doctor. “Well, no,” said the man. “I was thinking of something that would weaken my conscience.”
Well, we do not necessarily ‘murder’ our conscience; we just ‘weaken’ it – and sometimes we try to silence it. When and how do we silence our conscience? When we do business, especially with the government, we do not want our conscience telling us to be honest, to be fair, to be transparent. When we deal with social issues and political affairs, we do not want our conscience telling us to view them in the light of the gospel teachings. When we indulge ourselves in worldly entertainment, we do not want our conscience telling us how it can be harmful to our spiritual health. I heard someone saying, “He won’t listen to his conscience. He does not want to take advice from a total stranger.” When we listen to the voice of lust and greed, or to the voice of selfish ambition, or to the voice of envy and jealousy, or to the voice anger and vengeance, or to the voice of worldliness and materialism, we silence our conscience.
Leo Tolstoy said, “The antagonism between life and conscience may be removed in two ways: by a change of life or by a change of conscience. God has given us the Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sin. When we are going off course, he sounds the alarm and triggers our conscience. (Galatians 5:16-25) We may ignore the warning of our conscience, but we do so to our own detriment.
May we constantly hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit; may we be attentive to God’s still, small voice; may we pay close attention to our conscience; so that we may make God’s will our choice. Vatican II tells us that our conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of our being. There we are alone with God, whose voice echoes in our depths.