Virtue, it is sometimes said, is the quality of doing the right thing when nobody is watching. Both the Old and New Testament readings call us to virtue, but in somewhat different ways.
The Old Testament reading is mostly negative in its phraseology: Don’t steal, slander, rob, curse or hate. But right at the end we find a positive injunction to "love your neighbor as yourself."
This fits well with the famous Gospel passage that the righteous will be determined by what they did for the least of our brothers, for those least brothers stand as proxies for Jesus in our world.
This is a challenge for most people. It’s easy to reassure yourself that you are a virtuous person by not violating the "negative" injunctions of the Old Testament reading. And of course that’s important.
But it’s not really enough just to honor the negative injunctions if you want to be a true follower of Christ. Of course you shouldn’t trip a blind person but if you see him stumble on the other side of the street you should cross it to help him up. It’s important not to gossip about other people but the harder thing is to gently try to put a stop to it when you hear your friend gossiping about someone else. Of course you shouldn’t steal your neighbor’s coat, but if someone else steals it, a true follower of Christ loans him one of his.
No human being achieves a perfect score on this test. We all have moments where we succumb to temptation or indifference. But God forgives if we are truly sorry and ask for reconciliation.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook