Our Gospel (Mt 3:48) for the Second Sunday of Lent finds Jesus encouraging us: “Be perfect, just as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” He said this after explaining how we are to love our fellow man. Perfectly, just as our Heavenly Father does. If we live our lives diligently attempting to fulfill Jesus’ command of perfection in the love and compassion that we have for our fellow man, shouldn’t our attempt at perfection be reflected in all areas of our lives? In other words, if we pursue perfection in that one area of our life, it would seem improbable that, at the same time, we would demonstrate carelessness and indifference toward the daily tasks that God has placed before us. You would think that our attempt at perfection would be all inclusive.
Have you ever experienced a situation where you had to perform a task that may have been either inconvenient or unpleasant at the time? Or possibly you just would have rather been doing something else at that moment and, as such, your mind was elsewhere. So you just did what you had to do to get the job over with. You didn’t give the task your best effort?
In a court of law, negligence is defined as failure to use a reasonable amount of care. Webster’s dictionary defines negligence as “being careless, or lax, inattentive or indifferent”. So, if we had been lax, or indifferent, or inattentive in any given task and had not been giving it our best effort, by definition then, we can be considered as having been negligent.
Is negligence bad? Is negligence evil? Is negligence a sin?
This is what Jesus had to say about sin: “Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them, ‘Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.’
When He got home away from the crowd His disciples questioned Him about the parable. He said to them, ‘Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes into the latrine? But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him. From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.’” (Mark 7:14-23)
I don’t see the word negligence on the list of things that defile a person; but consider the following verses from Sacred Scripture:
“Whatever the activity in which you are engaging, do it with all your ability.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
“The slacker craves, yet has nothing, but the diligent is fully satisfied.” (Proverbs 13:4)
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. You are serving the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
“Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.” (Romans 12:11)
Now consider the following words of Saint Claude La Colombiere. Saint Claude was a French Jesuit priest who died in 1682. He said:
“Nothing makes more visible how much God hates sin than what He has done to destroy it. Is it not too much to say that He wanted to descend from heaven and die Himself to wipe it out? The Son of God has hated sin as far as to want to die in order to destroy it.
I speak of the faults that Christians who live in half-heartedness are accustomed to commit deliberately and of which they make for themselves habits that they hardly bother to correct. Such are the minor angers, the minor swipes, the words of contempt, the slight gossip, the mockery, the lies, the irreverence and the voluntary distractions in prayer, the desire to please people, the humorous talk that can produce nasty thoughts, the curious looks, too great a love of neatness in dress, laziness, the minor overindulgence in drinking and in eating, the negligence in things that pertain to duty. In other words, all sins of whatever kind they may be, when the issue is slight or there is a more lack of consideration than malice, I say – that these faults are the greatest evils.” (Magnificat, February, 2018, pages 105-106)
Clearly God created each and every one of us with our own unique set of gifts and talents, and I believe that we all possess the ability to achieve perfection in the eyes of our Heavenly Father when we dedicate ourselves to doing our best in all areas of our lives.
Doctor Ben Carson, M.D., said it best in the concluding paragraphs of his book, “Think Big.” Doctor Ben Carson is a man with a long list of professional accomplishments, he has authored several books, and Doctor Carson, you may remember, was one of the candidates in our last presidential election.
Doctor Carson said, “Some people complain about injustice in our society. They cannot be successful because everything is stacked up against them. Frequently I have heard individuals say that they have to be twice as good as anyone else to get equal breaks. Because of their ethnicity, language, or socio-economic background, they feel that if they do not do things twice as well as the majority of the population, they will not receive equal opportunities.
Whether this is true or not is not the real issue. I believe that God expects us to do our best at everything we undertake. If we always do our best and trust in the Lord’s guidance, we automatically conduct our affairs better than most other individuals who do not have the same mindset.
We do not have to compare our achievements with those of others. We need only to ask ourselves one question: Have I given my best?” (Think Big, by Dr. Ben Carson M.D. pages 265-266)