By Father Jacob Dankasa
Special to The Texas Catholic
In our lives there may have been times when we made a wrong decision, took a regrettable action, made the wrong choice, carried out an act in error, or made promises we were unable to fulfill. Those are moments that we may look back on and wish we didn’t have things like that in our past. But what we do when we realize our mistakes is very important in shaping who we are as humans and as Christians. When I think about this, I remember the story of Herod in the Bible, the story of the event that led to his beheading of John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-12).
Herod the tetrarch made a promise to the daughter of Herodias, who had performed a dance that delighted him. In fact, the scripture says, “… he swore to give her whatever she might ask for.” Talk about being careful what you promise! Of course, she asked for the head of John the Baptist. That was a completely unexpected request — we know because Herod became distressed about it. But he went ahead and granted her request because it was an oath. It sounds like he was a man of his word.
Herod may have acted in his own way, a way outside of God’s ways, because he was not a believer in the teachings of Christ. He may have been concerned about being seen by his people as a strong leader — a promise keeper.
But we Christians must ask ourselves this question: At what point should we rescind our decisions when we come to realize that the unanticipated outcome of a decision presents an even greater ethical or moral problem? What should we do when the desire to keep or fulfill a promise comes in conflict with the need to keep God’s words or laws?
Christians must behave differently because we believe in the teachings and ways of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And as believers in the gospel we must be willing to rescind our decisions when we come to realize the moral dangers they pose to divine law. There are times when our ego and our pride push us to stick to our positions, no matter how bad we have come to realize they are, because we’re afraid of what people will say or think about us.
We must have the courage to change our words, actions or ways when we later realize they were in error. In every one of our human actions that conflicts with God’s law, God must come first.
And even in our everyday human relationships, the courage to change our viewpoints, actions or decisions when we realize they are held or carried out in error is the most reasonable thing to do.
It could be a decision you have made about a friend or relative, or it could be a perception or an opinion you have come to hold about certain people or certain things, or maybe you reacted against someone or something based on beliefs you conceived to be true at the time of reaction.
If you later find out that your actions or reactions, or your perceptions or opinions, were in error, the right thing to do is to have the courage to change your thinking, perception or opinion about the person or people, and even apologize where possible. This is even more important if you are a leader, a person of authority, a head of household, or simply a friend.
Don’t be afraid to be called weak for rescinding a bad decision or action. Sometimes, in the name of trying to appear strong, we hold onto bad opinions, perceptions or beliefs, even when deep inside we hear our conscience say otherwise. Humans can say whatever they want to say about you, they can tag you with whatever name they want to, they can even call you weak for rescinding a previously held view or action. But if your ways agree with God’s, you are doing the right thing. You are just fine.
Father Jacob Dankasa is pastoral administrator of Holy Family of Nazareth Catholic Church in Irving.