Moral Scope Creep

Moral Scope Creep

September 30, 2018 | N W | Commitment, Deacon Eddie, Discipleship, Mission, Repentance, Self-Reflection

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 30, 2018 – Year B
Readings: Nm 11:25-29 / Ps 19 / Jas 5:1-6 / Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon

Many of you know that I actually earn my living as a mechanical engineer; that’s my nine-to-five job. You may not know that the way I exercise my engineering degree is as a machine designer. I build custom machines. Customers come to the company I work for with a problem; we put together a solution; they give us a purchase order; and then we build a machine to solve their problem.

But invariably, during that design process, we’ll stumble across something that really wasn’t included in the quote. Maybe it’s some little problem that we didn’t foresee when we were preparing the quote, or maybe it was something that the customer didn’t convey fully to us. Quite often, these are just small things, maybe a fifty-dollar sensor and a five-dollar bracket takes care of the problem, and we just do it.

But the problem is, if these start to build up, then the cost starts building up, and if you get enough of these, or if you make some unexpected discoveries that cost a lot more money to resolve, a profitable job can become unprofitable. No company can survive indefinitely doing that.

We have a technical term for this buildup of little problems: We call that “scope creep.” The initial scope of the job gets bigger and more complicated, and it creeps up.

I share this story with you because I think it is a good analogy for what can happen in our own lives and in our families and in our communities and in our nation and in our Church with our goal to live our lives as Christ taught us.

How often does a little white lie require another little white lie, and another, and pretty soon you’re getting yourself into trouble? How many times does this happen? I call this “moral scope creep,” these little things that over time can become big things.

It can happen individually. But it can also happen in our families, at our jobs, in our communities. Because, as we let these little things slide, and they build up, then they’re not perceived as bad any more. And so our perception of morality gets tainted. And our personal and our communal global compass gets messed up and can veer us off course.

Think about this: Have you ever been standing around the coffeemaker or the water cooler, maybe in the locker room: Somebody’s name comes up, and somebody makes a comment about that person that is not very generous. Maybe it’s a comment that is not very nice, or maybe it’s a comment that objectifies that person. I expect you’ve experienced that. And how many times do we just laugh, when we should probably be calling people out?

When we let our guard down, and when we let little things slide, over time they can build up. Over time we can stop looking at someone from the point of view of “How can I do something for this person,” and start looking at them from the point of view “What can this person do for me?”

What do we do about it? At the revival, for the past two days, Deacon Oney repeatedly pointed out that, through our baptism, we were given a portion of Jesus’ ministry of Priest, Prophet, and King. We were given the obligation to fulfill that requirement.

You think, what can I do? Start on a small scale. Start like the unnamed exorcist in the gospel. Start by exorcising the demons in your own life. Start by exorcising the demons in your own family, at your job, at your school, in your community. That, my friends, is the only way to get our moral compass, as a community, as a nation, as a Church, pointing in the right direction.

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