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Blaming others

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FR. ANDREW DEMOTSES

Blaming others for our faults and problems is unjust, cruel, and displeases God. When things go wrong, we tend to look around us for someone that we can hold responsible for our difficulty. In the magnificent Book of Exodus, we read that the children of Israel did this in the wilderness shortly after their deliverance from the land of Egypt. When they encount- ered a shortage of water, and when they saw that they would not have enough food, they panicked and blamed Moses and Aaron for getting them into their predicament. "The whole Israelite community complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness." (16:2). They made scapegoats of their leaders, the very leaders who had risked everything to bring them out of bondage and slavery. While God mercifully overlooked their lack of faith and unfair criticism of His servants in these two incidents, when the Israelites later committed the same sin, He judged them severely (Numbers 16).

We need to remember, however, that when we blame others for our own problems, we are not only hurting the innocent victims toward whom we point our accusing fingers, but ourselves as well. By blaming others, we fail to acknowledge our own personal failures, and thereby rob ourselves of the opportunity to repent, to learn from our mistakes, and to ask for help. The moment we blame another for something which is our personal responsibility, we do nothing less than condemn ourselves to repeat our mistake.

When we see things more clearly, we come to understand that no person stands taller in the sight of God and of his fellow man than does the one who acknowledges his error, who asks for forgiveness, and expresses a need for help lest the mistake be repeated. No person ever won a victory in the personal struggle for spiritual perfection by pointing a finger in the direction of another. We are told, however, that acceptance of personal responsibility for even a small error in judgement causes all of the heavenly host to rejoice on our behalf. If we must point a finger, therefore, let it be at ourselves.

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