Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 2:
He does not do so. Knowing the malice of men in general, He predicts that some will, as a matter of fact, give scandal. But the prediction that scandals will occur does not impose any necessity upon this or that individual to give scandal. Every single individual is quite able to avoid giving scandal, even though all will not practice sufficient self-control in order to avoid doing so. And you must keep in mind the fact that such scandals as do occur, do not occur because Christ foretold them. He foretold them because He foresaw that they would arise.
The scandal of which Jesus spoke is not to be understood in the ordinary everyday sense of the word to which we are accustomed. If only everyone were "shocked" by the bad conduct of others, it would be all to the good. "Scandal-mongering," of course, could deserve the anger of God, should it mean serious injury to a neighbor's person or reputation. But the scandal of which our Lord spoke so indignantly is the act by which one person persuades or causes another to commit sin, seeking an end at the price of the corruption of another soul's ideals and virtue.
Where Christians are concerned it is certain that He meant it in a much stronger sense. On few occasions was He more vehement. We know that capital punishment is a grim thing which makes criminals tremble. "You'll swing for this," has a deadly effect on their minds. Yet more terrible is it to hear Jesus, the Divine Legislator threaten eternal penalties for scandal. He has for it only a curse, and a real curse. Of Judas He said, "It were better for him, if that man had not been born." Matt XXVI., 24. But of the scandal-giver, the corrupter of souls, He says, not better had he been left non-existent, but better if he had a millstone tied round his neck, and were flung into the sea. He quoted a punishment which was inflicted on noted criminals amongst the Jews and Syrians to impress upon us that the punishment to be inflicted by God for such a crime will be as certain as death by drowning like a cat with a stone tied round its neck. Evil influence is a crime before God, however indifferent it may seem in civil law. And the dreadful penalties threatened by God are not a dead letter.
No sin is so opposed to Christianity. For to love God and one's neighbor, according to Christ is the whole of the law. Yet scandal directly attacks these two principles. It is the real enemy of God, for God created the souls of all human beings in His own image and likeness, and owns them all. But scandal disfigures His image and likeness in other souls, and robs God of them by causing them to abandon Him by sin. In addition every Christian believes that Christ died for the salvation and sanctification of souls, yet by evil influence the scandal-giver would ruin that for which Christ died. The blood of Christ is on such a man's hands. And if Christ will have to say to the lost, "Depart, ye cursed," ten thousand times will He curse the cause of such ruin.The injury to one's neighbor should be evident. Scandal ruins the friend one pretends to love. He who leads others into sin on the pretext of giving pleasure, gives not happiness but misery even in this life. Where is the happiness in years of remorse? History has revealed blinding misery and tortured consciences as a legacy of agony for years amongst souls, due to a complete lack of principle in those who have ruined them. The scandal-giver may go his way, apparently respectable, and even revered by men who know nothing of his victims. But God knows, and will exact an account some day.
The person who is induced to do wrong is not "just as responsible." I admit that he or she is responsible before God for agreeing to the evil suggested. Christ therefore pointed out the punishment of both the giver and receiver of evil suggestions, and earnestly exhorted His disciples not to yield to corrupting influences. As people need not give scandal, so others need not yield to it. And our Lord warns us, "If thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out; if thy right hand, cut it off." Matt. V., 29-30. He did not literally intend self-mutilation. It was but a strong way of saying, "However attractive the proposal made to you, however pleasant or useful it may seem, reject it whatever the cost, or the pain, or the sacrifice involved."But still, if the tempted person does yield, his or her responsibility is not so great as that of the seducer. In fact, it would be better for the scandal-giver if his victim did not yield. For then he would have his own guilt only to answer for. But if the victim yields, then he is responsible for that other person's sins also. Without his sin, the victim's sins would never have occurred. It is a fearful responsibility. If any soul goes to hell through another's corrupting influence, such a soul would be a perpetual appeal to justice that a similar fate should overtake its corrupter. Cursing the day of their meeting, many a soul could cry out against the cause of her sins, "I had no idea of wickedness till you taught me. But for you I would be in heaven." But even if ultimately saved, the victim can lay at the door of the scandal-giver long years of gnawing-remorse, and mental wreckage bordering on lunacy at times. Not without reason does Sacred Scripture tell us, "He that deceiveth the just into a wicked way shall perish."
Scandal is not the sin against the Holy Ghost. The sin against the Holy Ghost is a positive contempt for all the means of salvation offered by God. However much scandal a man has given, God will offer him the graces necessary for his salvation, and it is quite possible that the unhappy wretch will accept them. But whilst scandal can be forgiven, it is not like other sins. Those guilty of corrupting others must answer to God both for their own souls and the souls of others. They forfeit the right to special graces, and all the chances are against their attaining that perfection of contrition which would transfer the whole of their expiation to Christ on the Cross. God is not mocked. And if the scandal-giver is fortunate enough to escape hell, he will endure a purgatory of inexpressible suffering until the last farthing which he owes to the justice of God and the souls of his victims has been paid.