Repent. Turn away from sin. Jesus had a deep concern about sin, so great, in fact, that he began his preaching ministry in Galilee exhorting his listeners: “Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). Sin is real. Its effects are devastating. Every person is a sinner. There are no exceptions. No one is perfect.
Commission and Omission. We sin against God and neighbor in many ways. There are sins of commission. We do evil things. We make bad decisions, bad choices. We say mean things, do mean things. We lie and steal. We are selfish and greedy and impure. There are sins of omission. There are good things that we should do that we fail to do. There are times that we should help when we do nothing, times that we should speak up when we are silent.
The Lack of Awareness of Sin. We, like the Pharisees, often are blind to our wrongdoing. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see” (Jn 9:39). Jesus wants us to be healed of our spiritual blindness. He desperately wants us to open our eyes, look inward, examine ourselves, see the sins that we have committed, admit them, regret them, confess them, and quit them.
The Insidious Nature of Sin. One of the worst aspects of sin is our lack of personal spiritual accountability. We often deceive ourselves when it comes to our wrongdoing. We minimize: “What I did really wasn’t that bad.” We make excuses: “It really wasn’t my fault.” We blame: “It was someone else’s fault.” We make exceptions: “In my case the rules don’t apply.” We are in denial; “I didn’t do anything wrong.” We desensitize ourselves; the sin has been committed so often that it no longer offends us or bothers our conscience.
A Reality Check. One definition of mental health is to be in touch with the real world. By extension, one definition of spiritual health is the ability to be in touch with our thoughts and deeds, and with conscience well formed, to be truly aware of both the good and bad that we do. It is spiritually delusional to think, “I am without fault.” We are fooling ourselves if we go to Confession and say, “Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been six months since my last confession. I missed my morning prayers four times and my evening prayers three times. These are all my sins.”
The Blunt Truth. Even the greatest saints fall victim to sin almost every day. It is nearly impossible to get to bedtime without a single sin. Even the holiest person will find something: an impatient moment, an unkindness, a harsh word, a dirty look, a malicious thought, an impoliteness, something dishonest, an act of self indulgence, a bit of laziness, or a harbored resentment. When we examine our conscience at the end of the day, there is always something to be found. Jesus wants us to be honest with ourselves. He is asking us to repent!
About Father Michael Van Sloun
Father Michael Van Sloun is pastor of St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Wayzata, Minn. As a former school principal, high school instructor and athletic coach, he has always been a teacher. He now teaches the faith as a homilist, Bible study leader, retreat director, pilgrimage guide and author of numerous articles.
© Rev. Michael A. Van Sloun
Used with permission.