While doing some research for a writing project, I came across this quote from the writings of Jose Maria Escrevia, the founder of Opus Dei. It is about excuses.
“Excuses. You will always find plenty if you want to avoid your obligations. What a profusion of well-thought-out nonsense! Don’t stop to consider it. Dismiss it and do your duty.” – The Way Chapter 1 Number 21
I would say this is true for most of us, I know it is for me. We can always find excuses to avoid doing certain things, usually things we dislike. Thing like doing the dishes, emptying the cat litter box and washing the car certainly come to mind. But I don’t think Escrevia was referring to things like that. I believe it was probably more about our spiritual and Christian obligations.
It wasn’t too long ago that finding excuses not to go to Mass could have been said of me. Okay, that isn’t true, I didn’t need to find excuses, I just didn’t go. But I don’t think he was referring to that either, well, perhaps a little but I think it is more like living the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit.
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. – Gal 5:22
How many times to we find excuses not to be generous? To not love? To not have any self-control? To not be kind? We may not go out of our way to be unfaithful, joyful, patient or loving but we don’t go out of our way to be any of these things either, instead finding excuses to not. Like the priest and the Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan we cross to the other side of the street instead of helping. In crossing the street, the priest and the Levite made excuses. Maybe they had to make an appointment of some kind and didn’t want to waste any time to help. Maybe they thought the man was just an unemployed bum and didn’t want to help himself. Maybe they figured if they helped their would be no payback. They were full of excuses.
In this day and age we have become an uncaring society, full of people who only think of themselves. “What’s in it for me?” is the motto we tend to live by. It takes time to practice the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit. We have to actually think about them first. Like flossing and exercising it is easier to find excuses to not practice them instead of crossing the street to help someone, to be kind, patient or generous. Unless, of course, we make it a habit to practice them. Then like the flossing and exercising, they will become habits, something we will do automatically every day, without thinking.
Who knows – maybe we will have to make up excuses to actually perform some good deeds. Now wouldn’t that be a change?