Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Apart from political campaigns, we rarely here very much about the word any more.  So today's reading from Maccabees offers us a chance to examine our own lives for this particular virtue.  In the story Eleazar is an observant Jew who refuses to eat pork. His friends wishing to save his life work out a deal by which he could pretend to eat pork but really eat kosher meat. He refuses. He would rather die.  He is a man of integrity.

Let us be careful not to mistake intransigence and integrity. What makes him a man of integrity is not his unwillingness to change his mind. That would make him a fool.  As Christians we are all called to be disciples, that is students, we should be constantly learning and therefore changing. In the words, of John Cardinal Newman "To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often."

What makes Eleazar an man of integrity is his unwillingness to pretend, to be one person in public and another in private. Integrity is very simply the recognition that we have one life. We cannot carve our lives into little boxes: one for work, one for home, one for church.

In some ways modern technology has helped us.  In my father's time. He went to work at 8:00 came home at 4:00. Now, with our cell phones and laptops, those lines have blurred. We work whenever and wherever necessary. That also means we have to be very intentional about things like time for prayer, and time for loved ones.

Someone once said "Character is what you do when no one is looking." The same could be said of integrity. I often tell young people, the only way to guarantee that something does not end up online is not to do it.

Being a person of integrity does not mean that we are perfect. Only God is perfect. We all fall down from time to time. Being a person of integrity means striving to make all of the pieces fit into one cohesive whole.

Today take a few moments to look at the various aspects of your life and the kind of person you want to be. Are there pieces that don't fit? Is there some area of your life where you have let your actions drift from your core values?

Perfect integrity will be achieved only in heaven, but it doesn't mean we stop trying.