Doing The Right Thing
Opening Question: Have you ever know someone who kept a rule and showed disrespect? What happened?
First Reading: Exodus 20:1-4a, 7-8, 12-17
Sam knew the rules, but he used the rules to his favor. He would use anything to get ahead or to get the better of someone else. One day, he obeyed the rules, yet, he showed disrespect.
It was a hot day in the class that had no air conditioning. Everyone was grumpy, including the teacher. Sam picked this day to get the best of the teacher.
"Take your math books out and turn to page 25," the teacher said. Everyone took their books out, but Sam took an extra long time. People around Sam's desk smiled, as he tested the teacher's patience.
"What's taking you so long, Sam?" the teacher asked.
"Oh, nothing. Just doing what you asked," Sam replied.
A few moments later, the teacher wrote a problem on the board. "Does anyone know the answer to this problem?" the teacher asked.
Sam's arm shot up. However, when the teacher called on Sam, he sat silent. "Well, what's the answer?" Sam sat there silent. Others in the class began to catch on. A few giggled. "Sam, do you know the answer?" the teacher asked as his patience wore thin.
"Sure," Sam replied smiling. He gave the answer.
Throughout the rest of the day, Sam tested the teacher's patience, trying to wear the teacher down. Some of the other students tried the same thing. It was not a good day in the class.
At the end of the day, the teacher asked to see Sam after class. "Why were showing me disrespect?" the teacher demanded.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Sam said with a knowing smile on his face. "I kept the rules and answered your questions, didn't I?" It was Sam's last attempt to get to the teacher.
"We'll talk again," the teacher sighed.
Sam kept the rules, but showed disrespect. He used the rules to get his way, to make himself look better than others, and entertain his friends. But, it wasn't the right thing to do.
God gave us rules to show respect: The Ten Commandments. The first three commandments show respect to God. The last seven show respect to others. We can keep the rules but not show respect. But that would not be the right thing to do.
Bridging Question: How hard is it to do the right thing?
Gospel: John 2:13-16, 18-21
As the Passover festival approached, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple courtyard at Jerusalem, he found merchants selling farm animals and doves the Jews used to offer God in worship. He also found people who would exchange foreign coins for coins used in the Temple. After he made a whip out of small cords, he threw the animals out of the Temple courtyard, turned the tables of the money changers over, and spilled their coins everywhere. "Take these doves out of here!" Jesus yelled at the merchants. "Do not turn my Father's house into place for you to make money!" Jesus' followers remembered what was written in the Bible: "Love for your house burns inside me."
What sign from God will you show us that gives you the right to do this?" the Jewish leaders demanded.
"Destroy this temple," Jesus answered, "and in three days I will raise it again."
"Workers took forty six years to rebuild the Temple!" the leaders shot back. "It will take you only three days to raise it up?"
But Jesus was talking about his body, God's true Temple. When he was raised from the dead, his followers remembered he always said this. They believed in the scripture verse and in the words Jesus spoke.
When Jesus was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many people believed in his name because they saw the things he did. But Jesus did not believe in them because he knew what everyone was like. Jesus did not need anyone to tell him what people were like, for he knew what was in their hearts.
Denise was a quiet, but strong girl. She had more than physical strength. She had a strong heart. She would things others thought weren't the popular things to do. She would try to be friends with new students at school. She helped out at the homeless shelter. She even stood up in class to defend an opinion everyone else thought was strange. Popularity did not matter to Denise. Doing the right thing did matter to her.
At lunch one day, she was talking to her friends, when she over heard an argument. One of the bullies at school walked into kick ball game, picked up the ball, and announced he needed the ball for his friends. As he began to walk away, Denise ran over from her friends to the bully. "No you don't!" she shouted as she grabbed the ball away from the boy. "They were playing with it first!"
The boy was stunned Denise took the ball away. He would have taken it back, but, out of the corner of his eye, he saw the playground monitor watching the fight. So, he decided to "discuss" the matter with her. "What gives you the right to take the ball from me?" the bully demanded.
Denise was not going to answer with the same question ("What gives you the right...). And she wasn't going to tell him she was right and he was wrong. She didn't want to get into a useless "discussion" with the bully. She just wanted to end the conversation and get back to her friends. "If you want to threaten me, go ahead," Denise answered. With all the other kids and adults looking on, the bully was in no mood to get in trouble. He said nothing and walked away.
When Denise resumed the conversation, her friends stood there amazed. "Why did you take on the bully?" one of her friends asked.
"It was the right thing to do," Denise answered.
"What happens if..." one of the girls began to say. Then she stopped. There was no need to worry about the bully picking a fight with Denise. Denise had shown everyone what kind of person she was. People would defend her. They knew she would the right thing without any other reason.
Jesus challenged the bullies in the Temple who would rather make money than allow people to worship God. He did the right thing, like Denise.
Imagine if you had friends like Denise. People who always tried to do the right thing without any other reason. Those kind of people remain true friends. Jesus is that kind of friend.
Closing Question: When have you done the right thing? Did you make friends or lose friends when you did the right thing? Explain.