This evening, my thirteen year old son asked a pointed question, "How do I deal with another kid when he is beating up my little brother?" He went on to relay a story of an event that happened between his younger brother and another boy where things got a bit rough. He witnessed his brother take a pummeling and yet was unsure of the best way to deal with the situation. This sparked an excellent discussion related to today's Gospel from Luke.
In today's Gospel we heard that Christ cast out the money-changers from the temple. We heard an excellent sermon on just anger and standing up for truth and right. Yet, when it comes to specific situations sometimes we lose track of the right course of action...do we fight, flee, or flinch? My son's question poses a number of other questions and so can get complicated, but ultimately it comes down to some very simple things.
First, defending someone can be a selfless act. Fighting for the right and true, especially our faith can be a selfless act, and thus is justified. My son may be justified in sticking up for his younger brother in a sticky situation. He then must learn to judge how much force is justified. Being thirteen and tall means that he towers over a youngster of only five or six years old. He should only use enough force to separate the two and no more. If he were to "rough up" the offending party, this would only be done to satisfy his desire for revenge and would most likely not be justified.
On the other hand, there may be times when decisive action involving force is called for, or there may be times for stepping away. During the sermon at Holy Mass we were reminded to use our rational intellect to judge wisely and to not be subject to our emotions. During quarrels and fights it is much to easy to give into one's anger and "go all in", but this may not be justified by the situation. On the other hand, there may be times when we would prefer to flee, but a "fight" is the right choice. In this case we must not give into our emotions of fear and selfish self-preservation, but should courage-sly stand our ground. Both situations demand us to have the manly virtues of self-control and courage.
Ultimately, Christ acting as the Just Judges is actly self-lessly. He is not seeking His own will, but that of His Father in Heaven and of what is right and good. This aspect of being a just man has been almost completely lost on this generation as most simply seek what is convenient and expedient. To choose to follow Christ means taking up one's cross and daily following Him, and has He said, the wise man, before building a tower, sits down and makes the plan and budget to know if he has what it takes to complete it (Luke 14:28). We must first decide for Christ and believe that He has given us what it takes to follow Him, and then set ourselves on the plow, and never look back (Luke 9:62). In this, we lead our son's by example...for we cannot give, what we do not have ourselves.
This question of my son made me think...if our sons are not asking us how to become men, how are they learning???