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Bringing up children is not an easy task. They have to be taught what is right and wrong from a young age. In fact, child psychologists say that everything that children need to know can be learned at the kindergarten level, everything else that comes after that is extra.

Children have to be taught how to put things into their mouths, put on slippers or shoes, take a bath, use a spoon and fork, and so on and so forth. Children then do these things, not because they are convinced about their necessity, but because their parents or older people are watching by. Thus, much of the motivation for their action stems from fear.

I remember a story often told by Cardinal Sin about an incident between a mother and her son. One Sunday morning, the mother was frantically waking up her son. She told him, “Son, wake up, wake up. It’s time to go to church.” The son sleepily looked at his mother and said, “I don’t like to go to church.” And the mother asked, “Why don’t you like to go to church?” And the son replied, “I have two reasons. First, the people don’t like me and second, I don’t like the people inside the church.” The mother retorted, “Well, I will give you two reasons why you should go to church. First, you are 40 years old. Second, you are the parish priest.”

It takes time for people to imbibe good values, but once the fear of punishment is gone, then the law is followed and obeyed, not out of fear of punishment, but out of an inner conviction.

That is what the Lord asks us to have an inner conviction for the things that we do. It is not enough that we obey because it is imposed on us. We must do so because of an inner conviction that tells us, “It is good for me and it is good for my brothers and sisters.”

Let us look into our hearts and ask, at what stage of moral development am I in? Do I still do things because somebody is watching? Do I still need a supervisor? Do I still need somebody who will evaluate me? Do I still need somebody to pay me? Do I still need somebody to punish me for the things that I do not do? If that is the case, you may be 40 years old, and you may be the parish priest, but you will still be acting like a child, and certainly not the kind of child that the Lord is asking you to be.

Morality from within, morality from an inner conviction, this is when we do things, avoid things, not because of the law but because the heart that tells us it should or should not be done.

And when we do things out of inner conviction and not out of fear, then we become truly free.

Mt 5:17-19
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